SEN Magazine - Issue 94 - May/June 2018

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May • June 2018 Issue 94

Can we level the playing field?

Improving participation in sport for all

Positive about autism

Helping kids with autism to feel good about themselves

Top 10 tech trends

The key technology supporting learners with SEN in our classrooms SLCN • all-ability cycling • numeracy • dyslexia • learning disability • play SEN prevalence • school leaders • fostering • online learning education, care and health plans • recruitment • CPD and more…

M&M Theatrical Productions are the UK’s largest and most respected provider of theatrein-education, specialising in Classic Literature Adaptations and Pantomime Productions for Primary and SEN School audiences. We transform gyms and dining halls into a magical theatrical experience, using state of the art sets, sound, lighting and special effects. Our Productions are renowned for their high quality and attention to detail, ensuring that children of all ages and abilities are equally engaged, educated and entertained.

y understand e th re u s e k a ys m nals and alwa g needs are io in s s rn a fe le ro p h it g w in ren re outstand nsuring child e , h it w “The actors a g in rk they are wo ” the audience performance e th t u o h g u at ease thro

This issue in full 06

SEN news


What's new?


Point of view


Education, health and care plans


SEN prevalence


School leadership


Learning disability

for the brain and the body for people of all abilities (p.58).


Online learning


Speech, language and communication needs

In our autism feature, Debby Elley focuses on helping children with autism to feel good about themselves (p.82), Beverley Tyrrell and Kevin Woods look at involving young people with ASD in decision making (p.88) and we preview The Autism Show taking place in three cities in June (p.92).






All-ability cycling


Technology in the classroom


Looked-after children





You will also find articles on EHC plans (p.24), SEN prevalence (p.26), school leadership (p.30), learning disability (p.32), online learning (p.36), SLCN (p.38), play (p.46), technology in the classroom (p.62), fostering (p.66), numeracy (p.71), dyslexia (p.74), recruitment (p.100) and more.




Book reviews


About SEN Magazine






CPD, training and events


SEN resources directory


SEN subscriptions

May • Jun 2018 • Issue 94

Welcome The health and fitness of children and young people is rarely far from the news these days, with study after study revealing that kids are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, while obesity rates soar. It’s widely acknowledged that physical activity is good for us all, yet many children with SEN and disabilities face barriers to taking part in sport and enjoying the physical, mental health and social benefits involved. In our feature on sport, Elizabeth Morgan and Carina Taylor look at improving participation in sport for all (p.49); Jane Thomas talks to Paralympians about boccia, the sport designed for people with a disability (p.53); Alex Manners investigates what football clubs are doing to improve match days for fans with autism (p.56); and Jim McGurn explains why cycling is good

For the latest from SEN Magazine, join us on Facebook or Twitter. Peter Sutcliffe Editor


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The opinions expressed in SEN Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held liable for incorrect information, omissions or the opinions of third parties.

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Pearl Barnes Emily Burns Robert Craig Gill Dixon David Eggboro Debby Elley Sarah Gilbert Mark Hardy Talat Khan Chris Lingard Alex Manners Hannah McDaid Jim McGurn Elizabeth Morgan Mary Mountstephen Eleanor Overland Brigid Robinson Laura Rutherford Douglas Silas Jaya Simpson Carina Taylor Jane Thomas Beverley Tyrrell Sam Warnes Kevin Woods

SEN Magazine ISSN: 1755-4845 SENISSUE94

In this issue Online learning 26




Do the DfE’s SEN figures add up?


What does a headteacher do? The fatal cost of healthcare inequalities How simple healthcare changes could save the lives of people with a learning disability



Accessing education


Fostering positivity How fostering a child with SEN can enrich family life


Engaging pupils with maths A problem solving approach to primary maths


Interactive assessment The role of dynamic assessment in identifying dyslexia

Using online learning to help students who aren’t thriving


Decoding SLCN


Autism special feature Positive about autism

Identifying speech, language and communication needs


Shining a light on communication A review of the Awards celebrating the best in SLCN provision


Grounds for concern The importance of outdoor play


Sport and SEN special feature


Can we level the playing field? How to improve participation in sport for all





What works for me? Involving young people with ASD in decision making


The Autism Show preview

Regulars 6 14

The power of boccia 22

Football’s goals for autism

24 78

SEN news What's new?

The latest products and ideas from the world of SEN

Point of view

Have your say on any issue relating to SEN!

SEN law

Education, health and care plans

Book reviews

No barriers to bikes The joy of all-ability cycling


Helping kids with autism to feel good about themselves

The sport designed specifically for people with a disability

What are football clubs doing to improve match-days for fans with autism?


The writing competition celebrating the talents of young people in care

A special school head talks us through her role



Crafted in care

How changes on the SEN register might not be all they seem


May • Jun 2018 • Issue 94

Top tech trends Ten new developments that are supporting learners with SEN and disabilities

100 Recruitment

What are special schools looking for in teaching staff?

102 CPD, training and events

Your essential guide to SEN courses, seminars and events

112 SEN resources directory





The fatal co s healthcare int of equalities


Decoding S LCN

Jaya Simpson loo communication ks at what speech, language needs are and how and we can identify them

Simple healthcare with a learning disachanges could save the lives of people bility, writes Sar ah Gilbert



edical profe ssionals do a fabulous job for most people, but for someone with a learning disability, a routine trip to the doctors can be a jargon-filled nightmare. Imagine findi ng out you suffered a heart attac k that you neve r knew about, desp ite visiting your GP at the time. This was the realit y for one patient, Lero y Binns, who has a learning disability. Thro ughout his life he has overcome multiple heal th issues, but when he was told he’d suffered a heart attac k he never knew about, he was unde rstandably shoc ked and upset. “I just Training on couldn’t unde learning disab ility makes a rstand the inaccessible huge differe nce to the care information I staff can provid was given by doctors”, Lero e. y explains. “Wo rds like cardiovascular meant nothing to me at the time and I left the doct that care for or’s having patients with no idea I’d just had a hear a learning disability is t attack. It worse than wasn’t until two that received years later when by patients witho I went back to the ut. And perh doctor's that aps most shocking of they looked all is that more at my records than and explained half of those surveyed what had happened. I (59 per cent was angry. I ) feel that the issue of knew about avoidable deat people with a learning disab hs doesn’t receive enou ility dying gh attention avoidably in from the NHS the NHS and Another surv . I was furious this could happ ey, this time Men en to me!” of 500 cap commiss people with a ioned research learning disab for the laun ility, mirrors this as it reve ch of its cam als that more Shocking fact paign, Treat Me Well, whic than one in s five (21 per cent h aims to Sadly, cases ) think trans that form the like Leroy’s aren’ healthcare way the NHS staff are bad t a one-off treats peop at explainin horror story, le with a learning disa g things to but a regular them, and bility. It reve occurrence a massive for people aled that people who 75 per cent with a learn say their expe work in the ing disability across the coun rience of goin NHS are not being equipped g to the try. Indeed, hospital wou with the know research ld be improved suggests 38 ledg and e per cent of peop understanding if staff explained thing they need in le with a learning disab s in a way that’ order to make simp ility die from s easy to understan le changes avoidable d. causes, com for people with a learning pared to just disability. nine per cent of the general The survey population, Not just ano of more than with 1,200 avoidable deat ther stat 500 heal istic thcare professio hs happening Behind all of every year nals found the numbers – three peop that almost a quar le a day who is a real person, just ter claim to se lives coul have been save like Leroy, have never d attended train who has d if they had experienced ing on how to access to the ramificat good quality, better meet the needs of ions of a timely healthcar lack of unde people with e. rstan a ding learn disability. A and training ing on learning further 37 per disability. Sadl cent feel y, there are SENISSUE94 many such stori es.

henever I get together Why do we with extended care about family and SLCN? old family frien ds, we It’s been seve start reminisc n years since ing about times gone the “Hello” National Yea by and the r of Commun conversatio always seem ication – a n campaign to s to come arou increase pare nd to my talking as a nts’ and professiona child. Apparen ls’ understand tly, when I was a todd ing of how important it ler I had quit is for children e a lot to say. The only and young people to deve problem was lop goo that d communicati apart from my pare skills, but muc on nts nobody h of my prof was able to understand essional life is still spe me. I would nt trying to chatter awa to my friend do just that. y So why is “gargot" (Cha it so importa rlotte) about my “backdudee nt to rais the profile of e " (blackcurrant speech, lang ) and my “numnee” (dum uage and communicat my) with no awa struggle with ion needs (SLC reness language aged that I wasn’t N)? What is it about this five are six using real wor times less likel particular type ds just like y to achieve the everyone else of SEN that causes it . “How funny expected standard in Eng to be forgotten that you are helping child lish at age 11 or missed, and why is it ren to speak!” (Save The Children, 201 so important is as much of 6). The implicat a part of our that we have systems in plac family’s Chri ions are wider than acad stmas dinner e to identify routine as the emic thos succ e who are strugglin ess too, with turkey, and I these children g? haven’t got sick of it yet. being more The answer than twice as likely to be is in the rese unemployed At that you arch and evidence; we at age 34 ng age I was and know one and that commun a half times lucky enough to have ication is a key fact more likely to been well sup have mental or in making ported health difficultie by my parents sure that children go s (Law et and nursery, al., 2010). on to achieve and was able to “cat positive outcomes. It’s ch up” befo re it affected widely acknow my literacy skill ledg that the deve ed s. But what abo What do we lopment of litera ut those who don’t? me an by SLCN? cy skills are dependent I’ll start by on language breaking dow competency (Roulstone et n the three skills that mos al., 2011), and t of us take for children who granted, that the child ren I see, thin k and write about every day find so cha llenging. Until we’re aske d to describ e exactly what difficult ies we see in a child, it might have neve r occurred to many of us that it’s pos sible for a child or young person to have language diffic ulties but perfectly deve loped speech, or speech difficulties with great commun ication skills. At the same time, difficulties often overlap and many child ren have challenges in more than one area. • Speech refe rs to speakin g with a clear voice, in a way that makes speech sound interesting and meaningful, speaking with out hesitatin g too much or repe Communicatio ating words n skills are centr or al to achieving sounds and positive outco being able to mes for a child make . sounds clea rly so people SENISSUE9 can 4 understand what you say.

I was perceived to be a hysterical, over-pr otective mother and noone took my concerns ser iously

32 Learning disability



It’s widely ackno wledged that the develop ment of literacy skills is dependent on lan guage competency

38 Speech, language and communication needs 62







Top tech tre nds


Eleanor Overla nd outlines ten key are being used to support learner developments in technology that s with SEN and disabilities


Interactive assessmen t

10. Touch scr eens

There is noth Without the ing worse than need of proj having to use a fadi ectors, the clarity of the ng projecto screens is muc r, a board that doesn’t h improved and the built align, speakers in speakers that pop in and out, make them ideal for sho and interactiv wing e func video and tions that are now other multimedia cont a distant mem ent. Most also ory. For learners with have plug in points for SEN, such a headphones setup can be highly problema or additional speakers, shou tic. ld enhanced Interactive touc sound be requ ired for hearing impa h screens are latest addition ired learners. the Trolley mounted to classroom screens allow display and are a lot use in different loca more robust. tions and man Many now support touc y are also height adjustab h points from le, man altho y finge ugh the touc at the same rs screen table h time, allowing with organisa s may be a bett pupils to tion, these platf work collabo er solution for learners with orms can ratively on provide a real limited mobility. interactive resources and structure to organise software. The lessons and y do not resources, need aligning, 9. Online cla and submit so the touch tasks. They ssroom spa points are are also a grea far more accu ces Man rate making y free platform t way to connect with it easier for s are available parents and pupils to use share informat carers if the to them to write learners are ion tasks and and draw accessing them straight onto homework with learners away from the screen. the classroo . For those m. who prefer to complete The spaces work digitally are organise or struggle d and controlled by the teachers themselves

Many free platfo rms are available to share information tasks and homework with learners

Talat Khan look s identifying and supat the role of dynamic assessme nt in porting dyslexia


More and more schools are encouraging SENISSUE9

pupils to use their own tech devices in class .


62 Technology in the classroom



ynam ic asse ssm ent is an interactiv The usual way to iden e method of tify if an individual has assessment that is used a specific lear ning difficulty, such within education as dyslexia, to test for language-bas would be to carry out ed skills, and standardised considers the learning testing. This involves a potential of variety of asse a child. It involves the ssments which are spec teacher or ific to analysin assessor (normally an g the child’s phonolog educational psychologist ical ability, sing or specialist le word reading and teacher) mea spelling. Thes suring the effect of an inter e tests would also look at vention or lesso their cognitive n on a learner’s perfo abili ties, spee rmance. The d of processin idea behind g information dynamic asse working mem and ssment is to (reading rate) ory skills. The support and compreh the learner results of the specific to acquire the ension of text (literal assessments skills and and inferentia knowledge (alon g with observational l meaning) being teste skills of the learn information from d after bein exposed to er. These type g parents and teachers instruction. s of tests are administe ) then provide red on a one-to-o Alternative evidence that is used to assessments ne basis and are instr determine whet such as uctio dynamic asse n lead. The asse her or not the child or youn ssment can offer ssor does not play g person has less bias an interactiv than norm-refe dyslexia. e role in the To measure renced stan administratio read dard ing accuracy n of the tests ised assessments for example, . , . This is espe In you a cially dyna can true for mic assessm use a test that individuals who looks at the ent such as come from a fast word word reading proc mapping, you deprived socio-econom esses may introduce of the indiv ic backgrou non-words for idual, to iden nd, as well real objects as those with tify reading difficulties conn to evaluate SEN, or who whether a child ected to writt are from racially diverse can learn new en word recognition. backgrounds words, for example Another stan and who by substitut are English-a dardised assessment ing “gawa” s-an-addition for “lychee”, that used to test al-language (EAL) learners. for reading no learner has comprehensi more or less experienc on skills mea e with, and there sures the decoding (read fore there is less ing accuracy chance of bias ), fluency SENISSUE94 because of socio-econom ic differences.

The type of ass essments we use will have a direct impact on the inte rventions that are applied

74 Dyslexia



In the next issue of SEN:

literacy/phonics • bullying • cerebral palsy • visual impairment SEN law • communication aids • dyslexia • looked-after children PSHE • autism • manual handling • recruitment • CPD and more… Follow SEN Magazine on

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Children’s communication needs are being failed by the system Bercow: Ten Years On report presents scathing picture of SLCN provision Inability to identify and support SLCN harms children’s future prospects Thousands of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are being let down by a system that fails to identify their needs early enough or provide them with effective support. This is the conclusion of a major review of provision for SLCN in England, Bercow: Ten Years On, conducted by I CAN and The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). The report identifies “a fractured system, both at national and local level” that ultimately is adversely affecting the future success of these children and young people. New surveys undertaken for the report suggest that many parents and carers are facing a constant struggle to get their children’s needs met. Only 29 per cent of parents and carers felt involved in how their child’s support was planned, while only 23 per cent of people felt information about speech, language and communication was easy to come by. More than half of parents and carers had to wait more than six months for their child to get the help they needed. Timely identification of SLCN emerges from the report as a key problem area. Only 12 per cent of parents said they knew their child was struggling to communicate because a professional – such as an early years worker, teacher or GP – had informed them. More than forty per cent of parents and carers said their child’s needs were not picked up early enough and just 15 per cent of survey respondents felt speech and language therapy was available as required. “Throughout this review, we’ve heard of the relentless and often emotionally exhausting struggle parents and carers face in getting their children’s SLCN supported”, says RCSLT Chief Executive Officer Kamini Gadhok. “They shouldn’t have to fight. The Government needs to focus and prioritise children’s language and commit to implementing the recommendations in our report.”

Call to action

Children are not being supported to develop vital communication skills, says a new report.

involved in supporting children and young people, to come together and do what is needed to make a difference to the lives of those for whom communication is more difficult.” I CAN’s Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier also believes that urgent action is essential: “The evidence from Bercow: Ten Years On highlights that after more than a decade we continue to see fragmented services which aren’t fit for purpose and unless something is done now we face losing a generation of children without the life skill of communication”, he says. “We know that if we get the right support and help to these children, they can live the lives they choose, but we need to act now!" Whilst it recognises that some things have improved in the past decade, Bercow: Ten Years On makes a number of recommendations, and challenges both central and local government to act on them before “another generation of people, whose communication needs aren’t being met, become lost within society”.

Over 2,500 people – including parents and carers, children and young people, practitioners, employers and commissioners – responded to a consultation during the review to produce the first all-encompassing update to the original 2008 Bercow Report: A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs, chaired by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Key issues for urgent action identified in the report include the need for early identification and support, and systemic change, with SLCN forming a core part of national and local SEN plans. Services must be equitable as there is too much regional variation at present. It also calls for greater awareness of SLCN backed up by effective, evidence-based support that makes a real difference to the lives of children and young people.

Concluding his foreword to the new report, Mr Bercow says: “It is my hope that this report will act as a call to action to all those

To read the report, Bercow: Ten Years On, visit:




Government proposes shake-up of education for children with additional needs £4 million Alternative Provision Innovation Fund Call for evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for children in need Plans to transform education for children with additional needs and improve the experiences of children in alternative provision have been announced by Education Secretary Damian Hinds. Children educated in alternative provision, school settings for children who face challenges in mainstream school, are less likely to achieve good GCSE grades and are less likely to be in education, employment or training post-16. Children excluded from school are also more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. The Government says its proposals aim to tackle those inequalities and ensure Britain is a country that works for everyone by looking at the experience and outcomes for children who face the most challenges in mainstream school – including those at greatest risk of exclusion – such as those with SEN, children with autism or children in need of help and protection, including those in care. “Every child, whatever their background and no matter what challenges they face, should have access to a world-class education that prepares them for life in the modern world”, says Mr Hinds. An externally led review of school exclusions, originally announced by the Prime Minister, will look at why some children are more likely to be excluded than others. Former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson will lead the review, which will consider how the use and levels of exclusions vary from school to school, focusing on those children who are more likely to be excluded. The DfE is also establishing a “roadmap”, setting out how it will transform alternative provision to make sure these education settings provide high-quality teaching and an education that meets the individual needs of young people in their care.

New opportunities Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of the charity Ambitious about Autism is calling on the Government to ensure schools fulfil their legal responsibilities regarding the use of exclusions. “The exclusions review is an opportunity to think again about how exclusions are used, bring down the number of children with special educational needs being excluded and to stamp out illegal exclusions. Schools that break the rules must be held to account”, she says. New analysis by the Department for Education (DfE) – Children in need of help and protection: data and analysis – shows that children in need are three times more likely to WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

“A world class education” should be open to all, says the Education Secretary.

have SEN than other children, and that this compounds poor educational outcomes. Under the new proposals, a £4 million Alternative Provision Innovation Fund will test and develop projects that support children back into mainstream or special schools, as well as encouraging parental and carer involvement in the education of their child. The investment will also fund schemes that support young people as they move from alternative provision into training or further education at post-16. The Minister has also initiated a call for evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for children in need – those who need additional support or protection, including children in care. The call for evidence will seek to gather best practice from school leaders, social workers and other professionals. Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children responded positively to the DfE’s proposals: “We welcome these important announcements on behalf of children with special educational needs and their families; for too long the education system has disproportionately excluded these children and failed to celebrate their achievements. This affects, not just their childhood but their whole lives”, she said. Previous changes to the SEN system, including the major reforms introduced by the 2014 Children and Families Act, received a great deal of criticism for not being sufficiently funded. London Councils, which represents the capital’s 32 borough councils and the City of London, is now warning that the funding shortfall for children with SEN and disabilities must be urgently addressed and that the Government’s new proposals must be properly funded. The organisation says its members budgets for SEN and disabilities provision were underfunded by £100 million in 2016/17 and that pressure on school finances limit councils’ ability to support pupils with additional needs. SENISSUE94




Cerebral palsy support to get Aussie reboot The Chief Executive of UK cerebral palsy charity Action Cerebral Palsy is to study Australia’s national cerebral palsy register and best practice intervention models for children with the condition, in an effort to influence practice in the UK.

Biometric technology may hold key to autism support A UK charity is planning to build a new high-tech autism assessment and diagnostic centre where biometric technology will be used to “see inside” the bodies of people on the autism spectrum. Biometric technology measures minute physiological changes such as surface skin temperature, heart rate and sweating. Lightweight biometric wristbands can be worn by people with autism who may be non-verbal or unable to communicate how they feel. Realtime readings from the wristband will help carers identify periods of high anxiety, enabling them to step in and head off any dramatic behaviour changes. Autism Together has launched a £2.5m appeal to fund the centre on the Wirral, which it says has “the potential to transform the care of those with severe autism”. The North-West charity and service provider works with people with extremely complex autism. An initial trial with the wristbands – the first of its kind to take place in the UK – will begin this spring with seven residents at an existing care home run by Autism Together. During the trial, information on anxiety levels will be crossreferenced with detailed staff notes on the dates, times and locations of behaviour changes and extreme incidents. Staff will be noting levels of heat, noise and light in each situation – such as loud TVs, bright sunlight or hot radiators – and merging this data with biometric readings to understand how people are reacting to sensory stimuli. Three quarters of people on the autism spectrum are believed to experience sensory differences and may have to endure painful reactions to stimuli such as loud noise, unusual texture, heat, smell and bright light. This can cause considerable distress which they are unable to convey to their carers and can often be the root cause of unpredictable behaviour including violent meltdowns. “This is a very significant project backed by a real sense of urgency as the numbers of those diagnosed with autism increase and the NHS still relies on traditional approaches – such as observation only – to try to get to grips with complex autistic behaviour. Introducing this new technology into autism care will be game changing”, says Autism Together CEO Robin Bush.

Amanda Richardson (pictured) will travel to Australia, which is widely regarded as leading the way globally on cerebral palsy research, to collect the supporting evidence needed by UK government departments to make the case for investment in early intervention for children with the condition. The study has been made possible by the award of a Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, one of only 150 to be granted each year to UK citizens. The programme allows them to travel overseas to explore international best practice in the issues facing Britain today, and to bring back global insights to improve communities and professions across the UK. This projects follows on from the launch of the charity’s “Identify Intervene Impact” campaign in late 2017, which aims to improve the early identification of cerebral palsy, to secure timely health and educational intervention to treat and manage it, and to better the outcomes of all children with the condition. It calls for better training on early identification for education and healthcare workers in contact with children at risk of cerebral palsy, a national register of the number of children affected by it and the health and care provision available to support them, and an introduction of best practice guidance for education and health professionals to implement integrated health and educational pathways and specialist educational support for children with the condition. “There are approximately 30,000 children in the UK with cerebral palsy and yet we lack a cohesive model for support for these children and their families”, says Amanda Richardson. “Key to enabling their full potential is the early identification of the condition and subsequent intervention, but cerebral palsy practitioners in the UK face barriers to implementing early intervention because of a lack of evidence of its clinical, educational and cost benefits.” In the next issue of SEN Magazine (SEN95, July/Aug 2018), Amanda Richardson will discuss support for children and young people with cerebral palsy with reference to new guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on assessment and management of the condition.

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

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For more information on the Future 50 appeal to fund the new autism centre, go to: SENISSUE94



National Awards for young disabled artists Entries are invited for the national 2018 Unique Arts Awards, which recognise artistic excellence among disabled young people between the ages of seven and 21 in the UK. The Awards are divided into five categories: painter, photographer, 3D sculptor, digital artist and musician. The theme across all categories is “My World”. There are two age groups in each category – seven to 15 years and 16 to 21 years. As well as honouring young artists, there will be a special award for excellence in each category for a teacher judged to have gone the extra mile while teaching art, music or drama to young people with disabilities. The overall winner will receive £600 in Great Art vouchers and £3,000 for their school or college art department. The art teacher of the year will receive £2,000 in Great Art vouchers. The Awards are organised by the charity the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Trust Fund. The finalists will receive their awards at a ceremony to be held in central London in October. Tom Yendell, chairman of the charity’s Board of Trustees and himself an internationally renowned mouth and foot painting artist, believes the Awards will showcase and recognise the best, talented young artists who overcome disability and adversity in pursuit of their art: “We are delighted to be hosting our third Unique Art Awards. In 2017, we had over 300 entries, which was truly inspiring. We look forward to building on this success in 2018 and hope to receive entries from young artists from every part of the UK”, he said. Entries close on 20 June 2018. For more information, visit:

Call for urgent reform of Work Capability Assessment Government figures on the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the assessment for eligibility for the Employment and Support Allowance benefit, show that 61 per cent of benefit decisions are overturned at the appeal stage. Disability charity Sense is calling for improvements to the WCA to ensure a fairer system that provides better outcomes for people with a disability at the first time of asking. “The figures continue to show that WCA is causing unnecessary stress and anxiety for disabled people”, says Sense Deputy CEO Richard Kramer. “Poor decisions are still being made and disabled people are needlessly having to go through a lengthy process to claim the benefits to which they are eligible.” The charity believes it is unacceptable that claimants have to negotiate an “unnecessary” appeals process, and that the Government’s own figures show that the current system is not working. “We need an assessment process that looks at actual barriers to work facing disabled people which will be better at distinguishing between those who can work and want to work and those who can’t”, says Mr Kramer. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Autism professionals honoured The winners of the National Autistic Society’s Autism Professionals Awards were announced at a recent ceremony in Harrogate. The top accolade, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley in recognition of her commitment to improving the lives of autistic people through her Foundation. The annual event was hosted by National Autistic Society (NAS) President Jane Asher and Kate Fox, an award winning stand-up poet. They handed out 15 awards to individuals and teams involved in education, health, social care, employment, community projects and volunteering. The winners were chosen by an independent panel of ten autism experts who judged each nomination on their innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability. Laura James was another major winner, receiving the Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum. She is an author and journalist who has campaigned and written widely about autism, including in her memoir Odd Girl Out. The Award for Inspirational Volunteer was given to Mandy Garford in recognition of the work supporting autistic people and families in Kent, in part as Chair of the Dartford and Gravesham Branch of the NAS. The education accolades went to Ashley High School in Cheshire, the University of Lincoln’s Student Wellbeing Team, Gloucestershire County Council’s IMPACT service and Adele Beeson who works as a specialist skills tutor for Spectrum First Ltd. HM Prison and Young Offenders’ Institution Parc was recognised as Outstanding Adult Service for their work improving support for autistic prisoners, and EmployAbility at Cadent received the Most Supportive Employer Award. Carol Povey, Director of the National Autistic Society's Centre for Autism, was keen to congratulate all the winners and finalists. “It's been fantastic hearing about their innovative work and the impact it's having on autistic people and their families”, she said. “But we know that support and services in the UK are still far too patchy. We hope that sharing the stories of our winners and finalists will inspire other people and organisations and give them some ideas about how they can make a real difference.” The winners of the other awards were: Penelope Clarke, NHS Shetland (Outstanding Healthcare Professional); Carolyn Tucker, Surrey Choices (Most Inspirational Social Care Professional); Axia ASD Ltd (Outstanding Health Services); KAT Family Support, The Kent Autistic Trust (Outstanding Family Support); Aukestra, Aukestral Creative Solutions (Most Creative Community Project); and Roman Fields School, Hertfordshire (Autism Accreditation Excellence Award). For more information about the winners (pictured above) and the Awards, visit: SENISSUE94




Schools are running at a deficit A new report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) examines the latest trends in local authority maintained school balances, and assesses whether all schools will be able to meet cost pressures over the next two years, following recent government funding reforms. This new analysis, School funding pressures in England, builds on EPI research last year on the implications of the Government’s National Funding Formula for schools and changes in real per pupil spending. Assessing the state of school balances for local authority maintained schools (1,136 secondaries, 13,404 primaries) over the last seven years, the report found that a number of schools have been struggling financially and are now in deficit The number of local authority maintained secondary schools in deficit reduced from 14.3 per cent in 2010-11 to 8.8 per cent in 2013-14. However, over the period of four years up until 201617, the proportion of these schools in deficit nearly trebled, expanding to over a quarter of all such schools. The average maintained secondary school deficit rose over this seven year period, from £292,822 in 2010-11 to £374,990 in 2016-17. The number of local authority maintained primary schools in deficit has also risen. In 2010-11, 5.2 per cent of these schools were in deficit; this reduced in the following year to 3.7 per cent, before staying at a level of around four per cent until 2015-16. However, in 2016-17, the proportion of primary schools in deficit increased significantly, to 7.1 per cent. The average primary school deficit also increased, from £72,042 in 2010-11, to £107,962 in 2016-17. The South-West had the highest percentage of local authority maintained secondaries in deficit over this period – 34.9 per cent in 2016-17 – while the East had the lowest at 17.5 per cent in 2016-17. The North-East had the highest number of local authority maintained primary schools in deficit in 2016-17 at 10.1 per cent. The East of England had the lowest, at just 3.4 per cent.

Children with ADHD let down by both health and education services Delays in diagnosing ADHD and inadequate support for children and families following diagnosis are leaving up to two-thirds of parents without vital information and help, according to a new report published today by the Scottish ADHD Coalition. Attending to Parents: Children's ADHD Services in Scotland 2018 is believed to be the only report of its kind ever published in Scotland and is based on a survey of more than 200 parents across every mainland health board. It found services to be patchy and inconsistent, with parents in many cases not being offered the basic support outlined in the SIGN guideline for ADHD and the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act of 2004. Key findings of the survey include: 65 per cent of parents of recently diagnosed children felt that the diagnosis process had taken too long, with long waiting times for CAMHS and lack of recognition by schools cited as key issues; the vast majority of children had been prescribed medication for their ADHD and had found this helpful, but in many cases this was the only treatment offered; 63 per cent of parents had been offered no training to help them manage their child’s condition; only 15 per cent had had psychological input and almost half had been given no written information about ADHD; within education services, only 26 per cent of respondents felt that their child’s teacher(s) had a good understanding of ADHD and how to manage it in the classroom, and almost a third had been left to communicate their child’s diagnosis to teachers with no support from the health team; more than two-thirds of parents felt that any plans made in school to support their child were inadequate. In addition, children with ADHD are also likely to be excluded from school. A third of respondents said their child had been temporarily excluded from school at least once, and on average this had happened six times to these children. “Schools need to be implementing additional support that the child is legally entitled to and understanding the social isolation experienced by families and supporting them, not making their job harder by forcing parents to fight for support which they should be getting anyway”, said one parent.

Over two-thirds of local authority maintained secondary schools spent more than their income in 2016-17 and 40 per cent of these schools have had balances in decline for at least two years in a row. Over 60 per cent of maintained primary schools were spending more than their income in 2016-17 and a quarter have had a falling balance for two years or more.

The report also highlights the benefits many parents gain from being part of a peer-to-peer support group where they can meet others in similar situations and feel less alone. A parent from the Dundee and Angus ADHD Support group commented: “Having other parents/carers to chat to makes a huge difference as they get it. Parents with non ADHD children just don’t understand the challenges we face daily.”

The full report can be found at:

The report is available on the Scottish ADHD Coalition’s website:




Government to invest in sports prosthetics Hundreds of children with limb loss could benefit from an additional £1.5 million investment in sports and activity prosthetics under plans announced by Care Minister Caroline Dinenage. This is the next stage of a Government fund for sports prosthetics, launched in March 2016, which has so far supported 220 disabled children. The Minister says it will enable more children to use sporting prosthetics, including running blades, as well as supporting research and innovation to improve prosthetic technology for the future. “Sport and activity are so important to any child’s health, wellbeing and confidence and [this] announcement should help many more disabled children to fulfil their sporting ambitions”, says Caroline Dinenage. A £1.5 million investment to the fund was previously announced in September 2016, with £750,000 funded through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to create a Child Prosthetics Research Collaboration. The aim of this research collaboration is to bring together leading national research centres with capabilities in child prosthetics with key experts from the NHS, industry, and clinical academia. The collaboration is seeking to ensure research across the system accelerates new discoveries and pioneers new developments into child prosthetics. This additional funding is designed to build upon the collaboration’s early results, which include the use of 3D printing in developing bespoke breathable prosthetic socket liners, a prototype game environment to help children train their muscles to control their prosthetic limbs, as well as the development of myoelectric, or “bionic”, upper limb prosthetics for children.

Lack of sleep leads to obesity in children and adolescents Researchers at the University of Warwick have found that children and adolescents who regularly sleep less than others of the same age gain more weight when they grow older and are more likely to become overweight or obese. “Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which is also on the increase in children. The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future obesity”, says one of the study’s co-authors Dr Michelle Miller. The paper, Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies, has been published in the journal Sleep. It can be found on the journal’s website:

News deadline for next issue: 3/6/18 Email: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Heritage Schools programme gets 1.6 million boost The Department for Education has announced £1.6 million for Historic England’s Heritage Schools programme, allowing the scheme to continue for the next two years. The programme supports teachers in learning about the heritage of the area they teach in, so they can embed it into the curriculum, and make local links with the national story of England. Half a million children have already taken part in a range of projects as part of the scheme, including creating local heritage films and community exhibitions. Since the programme started in 2012, Historic England has provided direct support to more than 600 schools, and training to 3,000 teachers and trainee teachers. Historic England has worked with a wide range of local heritage services including museums, galleries, libraries and archives to develop local heritage resources for teachers to use in the classroom. School projects are specific to the local area and children have so far uncovered a wide range of stories: one group discovered that its school was used as a military hospital during the First World War; another found out how local women battled for the vote a hundred years ago; and other groups looked at how the mining, fishing or cotton industries shaped their town. “We are delighted that the Department for Education has extended the funding for our Heritage Schools programme to 2020, so even more children can learn about and enjoy the heritage of where they live”, says Deborah Lamb, Deputy Chief Executive at Historic England. “Children are inspired by and feel connected to the heritage on their doorstep, and develop a sense of place by exploring the buildings and sites that make where they live special.” Schools are provided with free resources, teaching packs, learning guides and archive images that are free to download from the organisation’s website. To date, the most popular downloads are Saxon England, First World War and “What makes our place special?” For more information, go to:

For the latest news, articles, SEN resources, CPD and events listings, visit: SENISSUE94








Building safer lives and better futures


A Holistic Approach to Children’s Residential Care and Education Oracle Care & Education provides an integrated package of therapeutically supported residential care and education for young people with complex needs. We offer a curriculum that is broadly in line with mainstream education but provide the flexibility to tailor a bespoke curriculum to suit the needs of the individual learner. Therapeutic support is offered to facilitate the best outcomes, centred around SALT, play and art therapy, amongst others. Limited places available at our schools in Congleton and Bedford.

If you would like further information, or would like to make a referral, please contact us:






What’s new?

Only seven weeks to go until The Autism Show 2018 The national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome) is returning this June with a new programme of specialist talks, workshops and clinics, plus hundreds of products and services.

Key speakers include: Nigel Thompson, Head of Inspections – Children’s Health and Justice at the Care Quality Commission; Lorraine Petersen, Education Consultant specialising in SEND and previously Chief Executive of nasen; and Actors Travis Smith and Lucy Gaskell, who play Mark and his mum Sophie in the BBC’s “The A Word”. New features also include Autism Football and The Arts Therapy Workshop.

Fostering for Derbyshire Council Derbyshire County Council values the experience and skills that foster carers have which can transform lives. They are looking for new carers who can provide a longterm, loving home for a disabled child, or who can give much needed short-break support to parents of disabled children or children with additional needs. They offer competitive allowances and provide dedicated support, as well as a range of other benefits. They are also seeking new adoptive parents who could provide a permanent home for a disabled child. If you are interested, email: or or telephone: 0800 083 77 44.

Book your tickets and save 20 per cent at:

Mum 2 Mum PLUS bibs for SEN Mum 2 Mum have taken their award winning Wonder Bib range and adapted it to cater to the specific needs of children, youths and adults with SEN. Mum 2 Mum PLUS products are functional, quality feeding aprons and bandana bibs designed to make life easier for parents and caregivers. Features include: 100 per cent cotton super absorbent towelling, waterproof nylon backing, machine washable, dryer safe and adjustable neckline.

EQUALS Semi-Formal (SLD) Curriculum During January 2018, EQUALS published five new topics – My Drama, My Art, My Music, My Dance and The World About Me – within the brand new Semi-Formal (SLD) Curriculum. This unique curriculum has been written and edited by outstanding practitioners throughout the UK in the education of children, young people and adults with severe and complex learning difficulties. To download previews and to learn more, visit:

Mum 2 Mum PLUS is available on-line, at selected retailers and for wholesale purchase. It is exclusively distributed in the UK by Baby&More. 0333 014 4242

Explaining a genetic diagnosis to children

Could you make a difference to a child’s life?

When your child receives a genetic diagnosis, how do you begin to tell them or their sibling? This was the inspiration behind Avery, which was written to support families and help begin that difficult conversation.

A child with a disability might require more care and supervision than other children. From time to time, a break is sometimes necessary for both parents and siblings. Short breaks offer a child or young person with a disability the opportunity to share experiences and meet different people whilst still living with their family.

One family said: “Mum, have you read this book? You’ve got to read it! It’s just like me and Aiden. The little bird finds things difficult like Aiden does but the brother bird is always with him, helping him, just like I help Aiden.” Illustrated by Marta Altes, Avery celebrates differences in children and recognises the impact they may have on family members. SENISSUE94

Essex County Council is looking for passionate foster carers who can offer regular and sustained breaks for children. This will give their family the chance to recharge their batteries, assured that their child is enjoying a fulfilling, safe experience. 0800 801 530 @adoptandfoster WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Fosterline England are seeking people with SEN experience The UK is experiencing a shortage of skilled foster carers who are willing to care for foster children with complex needs, including developmental difficulties as well as serious physical and mental health problems. Children in care are four times more likely to have a special educational need than the general population. This coupled with the plummeting number of foster carer applications every year, makes the outlook for these children very uncertain. If you think that you could foster a child, call Fosterline on: 0800 040 7675 and quote “Fosterline SEN” for a free information pack.

Fostering in Hackney Every week in Hackney, vulnerable children enter care for a variety of reasons. Hackney Fostering Services seek to ensure each child gets the love, support and stability they deserve to flourish through childhood and beyond. Foster carers for Hackney benefit from dedicated support and a wide range of training opportunities to support professional development, as well as a generous weekly fee and allowance. If you have a spare room and want to make a real difference to the community and the lives of young people, contact Hackney Fostering Services on: 0800 0730 0418 or email:

New SensoryPlus Bubble Tube range The improved SensoryPlus Bubble Tube range offers wireless interaction, robust build quality and stunning sensory experiences, with rich colours and fascinating sequences. The low-profile base on all models is designed to provide maximum stability while allowing users to get as close as they need to the tube. The new built in easy drain/easy fill system make maintenance easy, and there is no need for hoses and hand pumps. All SensoryPlus products can now be controlled wirelessly via a smartphone or tablet with the Sensory Connect app. For the full range of SensoryPlus products, tel: 01302 645 685 or visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Back to helping parents… Following on from their very successful annual SEN Law Conference in March, put on with IPSEA and Matrix Chambers, Douglas Silas Solicitors are still assisting parents of children and young people with SEN to get appropriate provision and placements, either through general assistance or helping them appeal to the SEND Tribunal. Douglas says: “As I always say, parents should approach us as soon as they think they may have a dispute with their local authorities, because we can usually help them to avoid or reduce any dispute.” For more information, visit:

Outdoor canopies for schools Do you need more outdoor cover? POCCA has been manufacturing and installing bespoke canopies since 1999. They take special care and consideration of the needs of students with SEN, with designs revolving around colour, shape and imaginative learning. Make the most of your outdoor areas all year round and encourage play, socialisation and learning. POCCA canopies are designed to last ten+ years, and are very low maintenance. They also offer leasing options. To talk about your ideas, call: 01480 498297 or visit:

Connecting with nature to promote wellbeing Dr Moya O’Brien of ICEP Europe is leading a workshop at the Positive Education Schools Association Annual Conference in Australia entitled “The Importance of Connecting with Nature in Developing and Maintaining our Wellbeing and Boosting our Resilience”. Moya is a keen advocate in the growing space of naturebased education and its link with positive psychology. ICEP Europe has a range of online courses helping teachers and other professionals working in SEN and additional learning needs to develop skills in supporting and building resilience in young people. For information on short professional development courses and university accredited Masters courses, visit: SENISSUE94




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

Funding available for innovative SEND projects The Laurel Trust is a charity founded to support action-based research and innovation for schools and academies in areas of multiple deprivation, including opportunity areas. They offer supportive funding for imaginative SEND projects that will remove barriers to learning and lead to improved outcomes for children. They are about to fund further projects that will make a crucial difference to children’s lives and can then be widely shared. If you are a collaboration of primary or special schools/ settings or early years providers, turn to the back cover for more information on how to take part:

The Magic of Theatre brought to you M&M Theatrical Productions are committed to combining theatre with education, providing value for money productions that are innovative, colourful and captivating. Their expertly constructed sets, adaptable to any venue, allow for this experience to be enjoyed by the whole school, in the safety of their own surroundings. The company aim to provide shows full of fun, laughter, excitement, music and larger than life characters. Produced by their experienced team of professionals, scripts, costumes, scenery and special effects are all designed to ensure the audience will enjoy a magical theatrical experience. SENISSUE94

MacIntyre alternative school provision MacIntyre believe that every child and young person has the right to an education that works for them and supports their ability to learn and develop. They partner with primary and secondary schools, special education needs assessment teams, local authorities and health teams to deliver education programmes to learners who are marginalised in a traditional school setting due to: special educational needs; social, emotional and mental health needs; autistic spectrum disorder; and school refusal. Visit their stand at the Autism Show Manchester or the TES SEN Show in October or contact them direct to find out more. 01908 230100

Award-winning recycled products from Marmax Marmax’s awardwinning SEN play equipment has been recognised locally and globally due to its environmental credentials. The range, made entirely from recycled plastic saved from landfill, consists of everything from picnic benches and trains, to pirate ships and village shops. Marmax’s play furniture is durable, safe and maintenancefree, making it ideal for any SEN facility. Through creating so many award-winning products out of recycled plastic, Marmax Recycled Products have been able to save over a quarter of a billion plastic bottles from going to landfill. 01207 283 442

Medpage launch MemRabel 2i MemRabel 2 has helped thousands of people to live more independently through the use of personalised memory prompts set as daily alarm reminders. MemRabel 2 has over 100 pre-installed videos, photos and voice reminders, which cover typical daily living reminders such as medication, daily routines, home safety and appointments. MemRabel 2i provides all these functions with the added benefit of setting reminders via a Smartphone with the new MemRabel 2i APP. You can record short videos, voice memos and send photos from anywhere where an internet connection allows. The MemRabel 2i is available from: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


The Meltdown Kids: dealing with sensory triggers, meltdowns and their solutions This set of seven illustrated books is about children who struggle to cope with stress at home and school due to sensory overload. Each story shows different states of fear – fight, flight and freeze – resulting in meltdowns and the impact they have on children and those around them. Strategies are given to empower children and adults. Written by a Children’s OT with many years’ experience, the books are suitable for all primary schools and those with sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD and attachment disorder.

Autism-friendly holiday park For 11 years, The Thomas Centre has been providing outstanding holiday accommodation for families and adults affected by autism, epilepsy and related conditions. It’s also a popular venue for SEN school groups and organisations. Owners Richard and Jan Crean have announced that in addition to the two and three bedroomed properties, two new four bedroomed bungalows are available. Families and groups continue to enjoy the 25-acre holiday estate. In a non-judgemental environment, it offers peace and tranquillity, together with private use of a large indoor swimming pool, an outdoor playpark, go-karts, Bill’s Play Barn, a trampoline and more:

For information and details on buying the books, visit:

The new WIAT-IIIUK for Teachers (WIAT-IIIUK-T) Autism in Women and Girls online training The NAS’s Autism in Women and Girls online training module is now live. Access this module to explore recognising, understanding and supporting autism in women and girls. Created with a strong autistic voice, this interactive module aims to support diagnosticians to better understand autistic female characteristics and therefore enhance confidence to diagnose those individuals successfully. However, the information is accessible to everyone with an interest in learning more about the topic, whether teachers, parents, social workers or autistic people themselves.

The new Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Third UK Edition for Teachers is a flexible UK normed assessment for education professionals working with students aged four to 25 years in mainstream and special education settings. The WIAT-IIIUK-T offers UK normed data reflecting current UK population, it helps to identify students' academic strengths and weaknesses and provides evidence for applications for access arrangements and the Disabled Students’ Allowance. It can be used to design instructional objectives and plan interventions, and it has flexible administration, with five subtests to test key aspects of literacy.

This module will be free for the first year, thanks to funding by the Pears Foundation.

nasen Live 2018 Join nasen on the 6 July at the ICC, Birmingham for their popular SEND conference and exhibition, providing a range of opportunities for delegates to learn and examine what effective practice for children and young people with SEND looks like. On offer will be a range of high quality seminars from high profile guest speakers, as well as access to leading, awardwinning exhibitors. The price of a ticket (£149 for members or £199 for nonmembers) will provide you with access to any of the seminars available on the day. To find out more, visit: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

The Pivot Academy scores “Good” in first inspection The Pivot Academy, opened in 2017, has been awarded Good following its first Ofsted inspection. On two sites in Kirklees, it caters for Key Stage 3-4 students with social, emotional and mental health needs. The Pivot Academy’s acting Head, Andrew Kitterick, said: “We set out to be categorised as a good school in our first year, so achieving the grade in less than a year is testament to the hard work and determination of the team to get both sites up and running and providing high quality education.” SENISSUE94




Scotland’s residential school for visually impaired pupils

Bringing sunken trampolines to UK schools

The Royal Blind School is Scotland’s only residential school specialising in the care and education of visually impaired pupils, including those with complex needs.

Sunken trampolines are introducing ground trampolines, which comply with sporting equipment safety standards, to the UK schools market. This means that schools can have an easily accessible sunken option instead of the heavy, clumsy above-ground options, which can be time consuming to set up.

It offers day places as well as a range of residential options including, weekly, termly and 52-week a year placements. The School enrols pupils from P1 to P6 and has a weekly pre-school playgroup. As well as offering a full curriculum, the School delivers independent living skills, mobility and orientation to ensure that pupils become as independent as possible.

As part of the European Committee for the setting of safety standards for trampolines, Sunken Trampolines are the experts in helping schools to bring trampolining to their setting. For more information, visit: or contact Joel/Angus at:

Guide Dogs’ children and young people’s Advice Line

Junior Language Link wins Education Resources Award 2018

Guide Dogs’ children and young people’s Advice Line offers support, guidance and access to the range of services Guide Dogs provide, including education and family support, mobility and independence skills training, bespoke large-print CustomEyes books, advice on accessing technology and grants and recreational activities.

Awarding the Primary Resource tool for leadership, management and assessment, judges said they were “highly impressed – the platform not only offers opportunities to track and trace student progress, but also provides well-designed suggestions and strategies for teacher intervention.”

Family members can speak with a trained member of staff, who works with them to create an action plan, tailored to the child’s needs, on their first call. To access support for children with a vision impairment, contact the CYP Advice Line on: 0800 781 1444, email: or visit:

Home From Home Care services rated Outstanding by CQC Two of Home From Home Care’s homes, The Oaks and The Reeds, have been rated Outstanding overall by the Care Quality Commission. Based in Lincolnshire, Home From Home Care is the UK’s largest parent-led specialist residential care provider. Paul de Savary, Managing Director, says “Our approach to care alongside our unique digital platform, allows us to wrap a personalised and comprehensive care service around each individual we are privileged to support. “If rolled out nationally, our new model of care will fundamentally help to improve the sector for vulnerable people, their families and staff.” SENISSUE94

Junior Language Link identifies and supports children with difficulty understanding language. Nearly 30,000 children have been screened this year with the standardised assessment. The interventions and resources are used in small groups and the outcomes reports for SENCOs are immediate and dynamic. Ongoing support is available from SaLTs and teachers. Book a free trial at: or call: 0333 577 0784.

New balance/pedal bike Strider® have introduced their new conversion bike, suitable for all children aged three to seven years. The Strider 14X Sport starts off in balance bike mode. With feet flat on the floor, children feel safe and secure whilst learning balance, due to Strider’s unique low centre of gravity. When balance has improved, one bolt can be unscrewed to fit the Easy-Ride Pedal Kit. The Strider provides child confidence while developing skills and is designed to fit little riders. It has an adjustable seat and handlebars, is lightweight and durable and includes Learn-To-Stride and Learn-To-Pedal Guides. 01926 339107 WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Arts Council funding for Bristol Play Music

Key Stage 3 reading scheme for pupils with SEN

Bristol Plays Music, which works with schools, communities and cultural organisations to promote inclusion and wellbeing through music, has received a funding award of just over £1 million.

Inspire independent reading and build confidence with Rapid Plus. It's the UK's leading scheme for KS3 struggling and SEN readers, independently proven to improve students' rate of progress in just a few months.

The £1.1m funding from Arts Council England will enable the organisation to continue its work for a further two years. Education Secretary Damian Hinds – pictured visiting St Werburgh’s Primary School, one of the schools provisioned by Bristol Plays Music – said: “… it is important we support children from the beginning and offer students from all backgrounds the opportunity to access the education they need to progress as young performers”.

Addressing Special Needs and Disability in the Curriculum The SEND Code of Practice (2015) reinforced the requirement that all teachers must meet the needs of all learners. This 11 book set offers specialist guidance for a full range of subjects in the upper primary and secondary curriculum, including English, maths, science, history, geography, languages, RE, art, D&T, PE and music. Each book draws on a wealth of experience and provides practical, tried and tested strategies and resources that will support teachers in delivering successful, inclusive lessons for all pupils. Get 20% off your school’s set by entering discount code SEN18 upon checkout: T&Cs apply.

Developed alongside Dee Reid, founder of CatchUp©, the series is dyslexia-friendly and designed to be more engaging for secondary school pupils. Find out how a combination of books and software can help each of your students start to enjoy reading. Contact Pearson to discuss your needs and book your free demonstration:

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.

Specialist autism education from TCES Group

Easy News for people with learning disabilities

With schools across London and Essex, TCES Group provide specialist education for pupils aged seven to 19 with an autism spectrum condition or social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

National disability charity United Response has produced the latest edition of the award winning Easy News – the first ever magazine designed specifically for people with learning disabilities.

TCES Group take an inclusive approach to integrating pupils with autism into their schools. This ensures pupils with autism have access to the same school community and group learning experiences as pupils in mainstream schools. Pupils debate, learn and listen to one another during twice weekly therapeutic "group process" sessions.

Using simple language and visual cues, this edition gives readers a news roundup which includes the Russian poisoning, Stephen Hawkins, Australian cricket cheats, royal wedding invitations and much more. To download a copy and sign up for future editions, visit:

To find out more, contact the referrals team: 0845 872 5460 / 020 8543 7878 @tcesgroup WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





Point of view: parent

Searching for answers Laura Rutherford discusses the uncertainty of bringing up a child with an undiagnosed genetic condition


pproximately 6,000 children are born every year in the UK with a genetic condition so rare that it is often impossible to diagnose (SWAN UK). Imagine having a child who has a number of symptoms and conditions but never knowing what caused them. Imagine never having any answers, despite seeing numerous health professionals and having numerous tests. Imagine never knowing if they would regress, stay the same or continue to develop cognitively and physically. Imagine never having a prognosis and never really knowing what the future held for them. I am parent to a beautiful six-year-old boy, Brody, who has an undiagnosed genetic condition. When Brody was born, he passed all of his newborn tests and was a content, happy baby. I began to notice that he wasn’t developing typically when he was a few months old. It was a classic case of mother’s intuition coupled with

one day in October 2013 that health professionals started to take notice. Tests were carried out, which all came back “normal”. I was told that he had global development delay – a catch-all term which back then gave me hope that he may one day catch up with his peers. But as he got older, the developmental gap between him and his peers grew wider and I knew that this wouldn’t be the case.

attending baby and toddler classes and noticing a difference between him and his peers. Brody found it difficult to sit up, was slow to crawl and then walk. He had sensory issues and vomited a lot – sometimes just at the touch or look of something. He struggled to chew and eat food that wasn’t pureed to within an inch of its life. And there was no babbling or pointing at all. I voiced my concerns to my health visitor and GP, but they didn’t share them and he was said to be just “slow”. It wasn’t until Brody was nearly two years old and had six seizures

a learning disability, is completely nonverbal with unsteady legs, a deformed


Testing times Today, at six-years old, Brody attends a school for children with SEN. He has

Our only hope of finding an answer is the genetic studies we have taken part in

foot, hypermobility, epilepsy and autism. Of course, these facts do not define him. He is a happy-go-lucky, delightful little boy who usually can be found with a smile on his face. Every year since Brody was born he has had tests. From MRI scans and EEGs to micro arrays and a nerve conduction study, Brody’s results always come back “normal”. Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes – when we really want an answer – it can be incredibly frustrating.

Our only hope of finding an answer is the genetic studies we have taken part in: the Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) study and most recently the 100,000 Genomes Project – currently the largest national sequencing project of its kind in the world. We are grateful to be part of both of these projects; however, sadly, neither can guarantee a result and could take years. Never having answers for your child’s conditions is something that can take time to get your head around as a parent. Before I had Brody, I naively assumed that doctors had the answers for everything. And if they didn’t know, they could find out. Of course, life isn’t that straight forward. Realistically, Brody’s syndrome is so rare there is a strong possibility that if we ever do find out what it is, there will not much research or information about it. But as a parent, I want to know everything I possibly can about my son. The reality is, like many others, Brody may remain undiagnosed into adulthood. Thankfully, right now our beautiful boy is happy and healthy – something we don’t take for granted. Diagnosed or undiagnosed, we will fight to ensure that he has everything he needs, whilst hopefully keeping that smile on his face.

Further information

Laura Rutherford blogs about her family at:



Point of view: parent

A chronic sorrow Gill Dixon makes a plea for the world to see her son with SEN as she sees him




like any other “regular” guy but is an

safe. I want people to challenge those

entrenched in the arena



open book and there are always those

who are uncomfortable in his presence,

of invisible disability for

ready and willing to exploit and humiliate

to make a stand for his absolute right

some 26 years. I love all

difference. Yes, there are lots of really

to participate in the things he loves,

the positive stories, the achievements

kind people who protect and look out for

and to give him the opportunity to

and promises of better things to come,

him, but no-one can truly keep him safe

adjust and adapt.

but I am aware that there is a sadder

– not even me. It makes me extremely

side to life etched with disability too.

scared for him.

I like the positivity, I enjoy the messages of support and glee, the positive stories, the anything's possible

It is hard to describe what it is like to swim against a constant and ever

Different lives

mentality but I also write the endless

stronger current of questions, squeeze

I am immensely proud and privileged

letters and wade through a mass of

through ever tighter hoops and jump

to have him as my son, but that love

unwieldy bureaucracy and form filling,

increasingly high hurdles in an effort

does come with something that I call

and assessments, and appointments

to have someone’s needs met. I often

a chronic sorrow. It’s a sorrow that he

when I just want to be playing in the

observe a total lack of understanding

doesn't have buddies calling on him to

sunshine and eating ice cream.

and that is an agonising story that plays

I never stop grieving for what might

out in a lonely, slow-motion epic. My son is a joy, a gift to the world, a gentle soul who depends entirely on the kindness, understanding and honesty of others. He has a whole host of invisible disabilities, a complex interplay of things which are just too much for

have been. That doesn't make me grim

I want people to challenge those who are uncomfortable in his presence

one mind to successfully work with. He

Sometimes they are sad and that’s OK. Just like everyone, we just want the best is etched with a chronic sorrow.

Today there is still a great deal of fear

people sometimes treat him as less able than he is, and a sorrow that he didn't

subtle shifts, some positive changes for

get academic qualifications, because

the better and a greater representation

that set him up as unemployable. It’s a

of disabled people in the media, but

sorrow that he can't drive a car or have

on the whole I find a world that doesn't

the partner he would very much like (yet).

really “get” those who appear just like

And it’s a sorrow that everything is and

anyone else and yet behave somehow

will always be so much harder for him.

Further information Gill Dixon is a trustee of the Dyspraxia Foundation:

I just want the world to include him,

I want my son to learn to cope without

to make adjustments to support and

me and I discovered that I was unable

make things successful for him. I want

to keep him safe from exploitation by

the world to see the person that I see.

others. So I placed him in supported

I want it to be kind and I want to know

living at age 25 years. He looks just

that when I am no longer here he will be


to their children's perceived disabilities.

take him on a night out, a sorrow that

surrounding disability. I do see some

differently from the expected “norm”.

Please remember that lots of families deal with lots of additional pressures due

for our vulnerable loved ones. Often that

navigates the world without a compass and sees only kindness in others.

and negative, it makes me human.

What’s your point of view?






Education, health and care plans Douglas Silas continues his series on EHC plans with the first of a two-part article on issues arising from these key documents Our child has an EHC plan; that’s it now, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it is not enough just to obtain an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment and then get the local authority (LA) to agree to make an EHC plan for your child or young person based on the assessment; you now need to ensure the EHC plan is accurate. In my first article on EHC plans (SEN92, Jan/Feb 2018), I looked at the 12 sections that make up an EHC plan (Sections A to K, including two “H”s – Sections H1 and H2). These include not only the main educational sections, which are, primarily, Section B (education needs), Section F (education provision) and Section I (school/college or other placement), but also health and care provision. The Children and Families Act 2014 (C&FA) and the SEN Code of Practice (CoP) state clearly that health or care provision which “educates or trains” a child or young person is to be

An EHC plan cannot be perfect all the time, as a child/young person’s needs are constantly changing considered as educational provision and should be recorded in Section F (see section 21(5) C&FA), but a lot of LAs seem not to be able to get their heads around this yet and are still seeing EHC plans as strictly educational ones.

What do we mean by “educational”? EHC plans have replaced statements of SEN in recent years (LAs should have completed the transfer process by the end of March 2018), where there was an easier – although still sometimes disputed – division between

“educational” and “non-educational” needs/provision. It seems clear by now that the predominant purpose of an EHC plan is in relation to securing special educational provision (SEP). For example, an LA will only to agree to assess for and make an EHC plan if there is an educational need shown; you cannot get one if you can only show a health or care need (although these should be considered in an EHC plan if an educational need is also shown). It seems relatively straightforward that if a child has language and communication issues, then a need should be considered educational and the corresponding therapeutic provision required (whether directly or indirectly) should be considered as educational provision. This was supported by the last CoP and is repeated in the current CoP, which sees communication as fundamental to learning, so should be recorded as SEP, unless there are exceptional reasons for

Parents have to ensure their children receive the provision they are entitled to.




not doing so. However, something like a physiotherapy need or physiotherapy provision is not so clear cut sometimes. Even then, courts have held, as far back as 1999, that things like this should be considered on an individual and caseby-case basis.

A difficulty will always arise if one person says something about a child that another person disagrees with

How do I ensure the accuracy of the EHC plan? It is important to remember that an EHC plan cannot be perfect all the time, as a child/young person’s needs are constantly changing. We also need to remember that the EHC plan has to provide a summary of need and provision required, so that a person working with the child/young person can quickly pick up the EHC plan and understand them as best they can, or see what they need to provide to them. As there are additional reports appended to the EHC plan from the EHC needs assessment (and there may be other reports, such as annual reviews to take into account), anyone wanting more detail can refer to these. By law (as discussed in my piece in SEN92, Jan/Feb 2018), the LA must gather advice from relevant professionals about the child/young person’s education, health and care needs, desired outcomes and educational, health and care provisions that may be required to meet them. I also talked about which people/ professionals should be approached by the LA to do this and how the EHC plan should be compiled. A difficulty will always arise if one person says something about a child or young person that another person disagrees with. In these types of situation, where differences seem stark and unresolvable, it is good practice to record both views. By law, the LA must send the draft EHC plan, including the advices appended to the child’s parent/young person and give them at least 15 days to give views and make representations on the content. During this period, the LA must also make its officers available for a meeting with the child’s parents or the young WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

person concerned on request if they wish to discuss the content of the draft EHC plan. This should provide an opportunity to ensure the accuracy of the EHC plan.

What about expressing a preference for a school? The CoP states that the child’s parent or the young person has the right to request that a particular nursery, school, college or other institution is named in their EHC plan, such as a maintained school/college (whether it be mainstream or special), non-maintained special school or independent school or independent specialist college, where they have been approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State (these are known as “section 41” schools/colleges). The LA must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless: • it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child/young person; or • attendance of the child/ young person there would be incompatible with the “efficient education of others”, or the “efficient use of resources” (“efficient education” means providing for each child/young person a suitable, appropriate education with regard to their impact on other children/young people). It is also possible to make representations for places in nonmaintained early years provision or at independent schools/specialist colleges/other post-16 providers not on the “section 41” list and the LA must

still properly consider their request and balance parental wishes against “unreasonable public expenditure”.

What can I do if the SEP is not sufficient or not being implemented? If the SEP in the EHC plan is not considered to be sufficient to meet need (or if the needs have not been identified properly) and the LA has not been willing to take account of representations made orally or in writing, the parent of a child or young person with SEN can seek mediation or appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. I will discuss this in more detail in my concluding article on EHC plans in the next issue of SEN Magazine (SEN95, July/August 2018). If the SEP is not being implemented, there may be grounds for taking legal action in the courts. I will also look at this in the next issue of this magazine.

Further information

Specialist SEN solicitor 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 2017/18), 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.





Is DfE data a true reflection of SEN? Changes in the numbers of people on the SEN register might not be all that they seem, writes Pearl Barnes


very year the DfE publishes SEN and disability data relating to the categories of need and levels of SEN and disability support. There was a dramatic shift in number of pupils on the SEN register within maintained schools following the implementation of the revised SEN Code of Practice in 2015, from over 21 per cent in 2010 to just below 15 per cent in 2015. However, since then, numbers have remained stable. New data recently published by the DfE shows a slight increase in the number of pupils identified as having SEN or being in receipt of additional support; nevertheless, the percentage remains stable, at 14.4 per cent.

EHC plans The number of pupils receiving support through an education, health and care (EHC) plan stays the same at 2.8 per

cent – but there remain widely varying levels of provision across the UK, with some areas voicing concerns that accessing a needs assessment remains problematic, leading to a reduced number of EHC plans. It is worth noting that the average age for an EHC plan is 15 years, which signifies ongoing difficulties in early identification and intervention, despite the Revised Code of Practice (and indeed the 2001 Code) supporting it. 26.9 per cent of pupils with an EHC plan have an identified primary need of autistic spectrum condition, whilst below one per cent of all EHC plans are provided for children with a multisensory impairment, making multisensory impairment the highest level of need. The level of EHC plans within the independent sector has slightly risen from 4.2 per cent of pupils on the SEN

The average age for an EHC plan is 15 years, which signifies ongoing difficulties in early identification and intervention and disabilities register in 2010 to 5.8 per cent in 2017, reflecting the growing need for specialist independent school places.

Gender Boys continue to outnumber girls on the SEN and disabilities register, with 14.6 per cent of boys compared to 8.1 per cent of girls in receipt of SEN support. Four per cent of boys, compared to 1.6

A reigning in of SEN provision may be a key factor affecting how many children receive support.




per cent of girls have an EHC plan. With moderate learning difficulties (MLD) being the primary identified need, this indicates that there remains an underidentification of SEN and disabilities in girls, since there is no evidence to suggest that boys are more likely to experience MLD than girls.

The availability of provision dictates the number of pupils who can access the support

Academies There are 12.2 per cent of pupils in receipt of SEN Support across academies in England and Wales. The DfE warns: “Academies have exactly the same duties for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as all other schools. All schools have a duty to adhere to the equality act for pupils with disabilities, to have regard for the SEND code of practice and to use their best endeavours to meet pupils’ needs. This means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s special educational needs. All schools have a duty to admit a young person, where the school is named in an EHC plan and engage with parents on the support provided for their children and involve them in reviewing progress.”

Independent schools Whilst the number and percentage of pupils on the SEN register in maintained schools has decreased year-on-year over the last five years, with a dramatic fall-off from 2014-15, when schools revised their registers in line with SEN reforms, prevalence within the independent sector has increased year-on-year. In 2010, there were 21.1 per cent of all pupils in the maintained sector on the SEN register (18.3 per cent without a statement of SEN plus 2.8 per cent with a statement of SEN) compared to 11.8 per cent within the independent sector (10.2 per cent without a statement and 1.6 per cent with a statement of SEN). By 2015, however, the prevalence within the maintained sector had dropped massively to just 15.4 per cent in total. The independent sector, though, saw a rise of 1.4 per cent to 13.2 per cent WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

in total. By 2017, SEN and disabilities numbers in the maintained sector had dropped further, to 14.4 per cent in total, compared to a further rise in the independent sector to 13.9 per cent overall. Explaining this disparity is difficult. It is hard to believe that pupils with SEN have migrated from the state to the independent sector. It is possible that the independent sector has maintained its ability to identify SEND needs as it simply does not adhere as rigidly to the revised Code when formulating its SEN Register, as they are able to develop and mould their SEN provision annually, according to their perceived and identified need. Moreover, it is possible that of this increase in number, their level of functioning may not be equivalent to those within the maintained sector; in essence, the bar for support is substantially higher within the maintained sector than in the independent sector, as reflected through the decreased access to it.

Reality check In my experience, it is the drive to revise SEN registers, to reflect those who are receiving additional support (as opposed to those with a diagnosis or who are behind in their learning), which has led to this dramatic fall in numbers. It isn't possible for seven per cent of all children to suddenly not need additional help or support. The revised Code of Practice changed the categories for provision from three to two: SEN Support and an EHC plan; whilst previously there was an additional layer of School Action. When revising their registers, most schools appear to have lost those who might

need monitoring or who dip in and out of services but are not categorised as weak enough to receive the ongoing additional support. However, this dramatic reduction in numbers has also come about at a time of increased austerity and cut-backs in services. If there is less money for support and provision, less money to fund intervention groups, there will automatically be fewer pupils who can access it. The availability of provision dictates the number of pupils who can access the support, leading to a reduction in the number placed on the register. In a similar way, closing libraries in the local community denies the community access to that service, it does not necessarily mean that the service is no longer required. Research shows that children and young people with SEN and disabilities are more likely to develop conditions such as depression, and are ten times more likely to end up in the criminal justice system and three times more likely to end up as NEET (NAO, 2011). Essentially, cutting back provision, in my view, appears to have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of pupils identified as in need of additional support, leaving children and young people open and vulnerable. More training and support is needed, not less, to ensure children and young people are able to reach their true potential, to live fulfilling lives and to avoid the onset in later life of secondary (and more harmful) mental health conditions.

Further information

Pearl Barnes is an SEN consultant and specialist assessor and a former president of nasen










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What does a headteacher do? Chris Lingard explains some of her key responsibilities and duties as the Head of a special school


ne thing I particularly value about being a headteacher is that no two days are ever the same. Although my role as a strategic leader remains constant, “typical” daily activities include routine tasks such as: checking in with my Deputy and Assistant Head regarding staffing and any specific activities taking place that day; meeting and greeting students as they arrive; discussing myriad issues with students, staff, and parents; regularly visiting corridors and classrooms; undertaking a lunchtime duty; and then dismissing students as they leave for the day. By themselves, though, these routines are not what make the role of the head such an exciting and dynamic one.

The leadership team As in most schools, the different days of the week generally have a variety of activities associated with them. On Mondays, for example, I generally

Along with the governors I retain responsibility for strategic oversight of the school and college meet with the School Business Manager to discuss all aspects of finance and resources, followed by a Senior Leadership Team meeting. This involves: the Deputy Head, who among other duties, oversees post-16 to 19 study programmes, undertakes many key aspects of the SENCO role, is Designated Safeguarding Lead, has responsibility for looked-after children, including applications for funding, and has oversight of all aspects of social, emotional and mental health needs; and my Assistant Headteacher who is primarily responsible for ensuring all aspects relating to the quality of

Regular meetings are scheduled in for most days of the week.


teaching, learning, assessment and outcomes across school, including further developing the enriched curriculum, especially through ensuring the maintenance of regular eTwinning opportunities. Along with the governors I retain responsibility for strategic oversight of the school and college. Once a half-term we also meet with our four middle leaders (TLRs) who either maintain operational responsibility for a Key Stage or a particular strand of learning, which supports our principle of distributive leadership. On Tuesdays/Wednesdays the Senior Leadership Team often facilitates reviews, we have a staff meeting after school and I meet with my Chair of Governors – who is very active within school.

Looking forward On Thursdays we tend to focus on school improvement and on Fridays we have a “celebration assembly”, followed by a range of enriched curriculum activities in the afternoon linked to our current Erasmus+ Project “Make Every Step Count”; this focusses upon personal development, especially life skills, improving confidence and self-esteem, and wider opportunities for social interaction. I always have a minimum of one or two visitors each week; often they will be parents wanting to undertake a non-prejudicial visit with a view to considering whether our school may be suitable for their child, or they may be other teachers and professionals wanting to observe classes or discuss our rationale or a specific aspect of



The life of a school can vary greatly, with different priorities emerging at different times of year.

curriculum delivery, which we always try to accommodate if possible. There are also a number of regular meetings that take place every few weeks, including meeting with the Headteacher of the mainstream secondary school located on the same site as our school, or with the Headteacher of our feeder primary special school; both of these colleagues are on the governing body of my school and I on theirs, which maximises opportunities for our collaborative working. Senior leaders generally meet every other week with governors either in relation to one of four school effectiveness sub-committees (based around the OFSTED grade descriptors), the Finance and Resources Committee or the full governing body meeting, which ensures a tight leadership structure and high levels of accountability are maintained at all times. Every half term there are also regular meetings with all the special school headteachers in my local authority; it is such a valuable experience to work together with a group of supportive colleagues and undertake solution-focussed problem solving around common issues that affect us all (for example how to survive proposed budget cuts or the best way to manage the introduction of the GDPR and who is best placed to be a Data Protection Officer).

Setting priorities There are different times of the year when different strategic priorities emerge; recently, for example, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

We’re currently in the process of evaluating our progress against last year’s School Improvement Plan my primary focus has included considering what our new budget might be, especially with changes to both the High Needs Block Funding and the implications of the National Fair Funding Formula. I then have to plan accordingly, whilst of course, still maintaining the highest quality teaching and learning possible for all. We’re currently also in the process of evaluating our progress against last year’s School Improvement Plan and refreshing our strategic vision for the next three years: where do we all want our school and college to be and how are we going to work together to achieve more for all our students, their families and the wider community?

Special times I guess there are also some days that feel more special than others, such as our Christmas Pendle’s Got Talent show, that brings the best out of many students and often makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Our first ever school and college production of the musical Oliver in the summer term, which all students are contributing to in some way, certainly promises to be one of these occasions. Then there are

memorable days such as earlier this academic year when our school was the only specialist provision shortlisted for the My Best School Trip Award at the 2017 School Travel Awards. A number of us went down to London to be awarded a runners-up prize for a Year 8 and 9 boys trip to Lithuania (part of the current Erasmus+ Project). This was in the same week that the school received the British Council International School Award – Foundation Level, another great celebration of how the school has proactively forged links and fostered development of international partnerships with other schools throughout Europe. So in conclusion, although it’s hard to describe a “typical” day in my life as a headteacher, one thing is for sure: despite working in an area with high levels of deprivation and with students who all experience significant challenges to their learning, I have the privilege of working every day alongside the most amazing leadership team, dedicated staff and brilliant students I have ever met, who are all doing their utmost to help pupils overcome barriers to learning and achieve the best possible outcomes.

Further information

Dr Chris Lingard is the Headteacher of Pendle Community High School and College, Nelson in Lancashire, for students aged 11 to19 years with generic learning difficulties (including many with associated conditions such as autism). Prior to moving to Pendle, Chris worked as the Headteacher of a school for children with social, emotional and mental health needs, and as a local authority head of service (SEN) and principal educational psychologist:





The fatal cost of healthcare inequalities Simple healthcare changes could save the lives of people with a learning disability, writes Sarah Gilbert


edical professionals do a fabulous job for most people, but for someone with a learning disability, a routine trip to the doctors can be a jargon-filled nightmare. Imagine finding out you suffered a heart attack that you never knew about, despite visiting your GP at the time. This was the reality for one patient, Leroy Binns, who has a learning disability. Throughout his life he has overcome multiple health issues, but when he was told he’d suffered a heart attack he never knew about, he was understandably shocked and upset. “I just couldn’t understand the inaccessible information I was given by doctors”, Leroy explains. “Words like cardiovascular meant nothing to me at the time and I left the doctor’s having no idea I’d just had a heart attack. It wasn’t until two years later when I went back to the doctor's that they looked at my records and explained what had happened. I was angry. I knew about people with a learning disability dying avoidably in the NHS and I was furious this could happen to me!”

Shocking facts Sadly, cases like Leroy’s aren’t a one-off horror story, but a regular occurrence for people with a learning disability across the country. Indeed, research suggests 38 per cent of people with a learning disability die from avoidable causes, compared to just nine per cent of the general population, with 1,200 avoidable deaths happening every year – three people a day whose lives could have been saved if they had access to good quality, timely healthcare.


Training on learning disability makes a huge difference to the care that staff can provide.

I was perceived to be a hysterical, over-protective mother and no-one took my concerns seriously Mencap commissioned research for the launch of its campaign, Treat Me Well, which aims to transform the way the NHS treats people with a learning disability. It revealed that people who work in the NHS are not being equipped with the knowledge and understanding they need in order to make simple changes for people with a learning disability. The survey of more than 500 healthcare professionals found that almost a quarter claim to have never attended training on how to better meet the needs of people with a learning disability. A further 37 per cent feel

that care for patients with a learning disability is worse than that received by patients without. And perhaps most shocking of all is that more than half of those surveyed (59 per cent) feel that the issue of avoidable deaths doesn’t receive enough attention from the NHS. Another survey, this time of 500 people with a learning disability, mirrors this as it reveals that more than one in five (21 per cent) think that healthcare staff are bad at explaining things to them, and a massive 75 per cent say their experience of going to the hospital would be improved if staff explained things in a way that’s easy to understand.

Not just another statistic Behind all of the numbers is a real person, just like Leroy, who has experienced the ramifications of a lack of understanding and training on learning disability. Sadly, there are many such stories.



future avoidable deaths may be prevented.” Nick’s case is an example of how simple adjustments, such as appropriately involving and communicating with his family and carers, could have helped the situation.

A way forward The issue of avoidable learning disability deaths is nothing new. Mencap established the issue in the national agenda ten years ago with its Death by Indifference campaign and NHS England has made real commitments to make this a priority; however, this is yet to be felt by families and the pace of change in the NHS has been too slow. Freedom of information requests we sent to NHS Foundation Trusts and English universities have revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of hospitals do not include information on learning disability in their induction training for clinical staff, and almost a quarter (22 per cent) of universities do not include training on making reasonable adjustments to the care of someone with a learning disability – which are a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010. The Government and NHS must ensure no healthcare professional can set foot in a hospital without proper training on learning disability. Key to this is training on reasonable adjustments, which are often very simple adjustments to things such as using accessible language, longer appointment times or having information given in Easy Read format, that would help the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK get better healthcare and prevent things being missed or misdiagnosed. These are simple changes that can save lives and will not come at a cost to the taxpayer. They could even save time and money; for example, if a patient understands their condition and how

Patients can be supported to better understand their condition.

Nicholas Jones and his family paid the ultimate price when 27-year-old Nick died one month after being admitted to hospital for emergency kidney surgery. A coroner ruled his death was contributed to by “gross failures” in his care. His mum, Sue, described Nick as a vibrant, happy, young man with a mischievous sense of humour and so much still to achieve. “[During his time in hospital] I had to continually repeat details about Nick’s medical condition, his needs, his abilities”, explains Sue. “I often left the hospital anxious and frightened that there was no-one available to care for Nick during the night. Instead of listening to us and making reasonable adjustments, staff dismissed our concerns and we were treated as a nuisance. “On the day Nick died, I persistently alerted staff on the ward to the fact that he was extremely unwell and repeatedly asked for a doctor to come and assess him. I was perceived to be a hysterical, over-protective mother and no-one took my concerns seriously. Nick suffered a respiratory and cardiac arrest and I was left alone to perform CPR until the crash team arrived. “We will never forget the sequence of events that led to Nick's preventable death. All we can hope for now is that the failures that led to it will show how vital it is for all health professionals to be trained in how to support patients with a learning disability, hopefully, then WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

These are simple changes that can save lives and will not come at a cost to the taxpayer

to take their medication thanks to a slightly longer appointment and more accessible information, they’re more likely to take their medication properly and therefore less likely to return for another appointment. Thankfully, Leroy is now fit and well and has the support of his family and colleagues around him, but not everyone is so lucky. Let’s not stand for another avoidable death and deprive the world of another amazing person. The solution is simple.

Learning Disability Week

This year’s Learning Disability Week, which starts on 18 June and is organised by Mencap, will focus on health and promoting the messages of the charity’s Treat Me Well campaign, which champions the small changes needed to ensure everyone has access to accessible healthcare:

Further information

Sarah Gilbert is Head of Campaigns and Activism for the charity Mencap which works with people with learning disability:





Guide Dogs provides advice and support to the families of children and young people When Aggie and Robert’s little boy Max was six weeks old, they were told by their health visitor to expect a smile soon. Weeks and weeks went by and still the smile did not materialise. Aggie says: “I had that weird feeling that my child was in a world of his own, somehow behind glass and he was not ‘seeing’ me. I didn’t think he wasn’t actually able to see me, that didn’t cross my mind at this stage, but I did feel as though he was somehow unreachable.”

Upon meeting with the ophthalmologist, Max was diagnosed with congenital idiopathic nystagmus. Aggie says: “It was as if I had entered another world and my child suddenly was labelled “disabled”. I felt overwhelmed; for two days afterwards I was not able to speak with anybody. I was still processing

all the information and I suppose grieving for all my son’s future challenges.” After having their worst fears confirmed, Aggie and Robert sought out any information and support they could possibly find. Through networking at an event specific to Max’s condition, Aggie met with a Guide Dogs staff member and was given the number for

A few months full of uncertainty went by before Max could see a paediatrician. On examining Max, the paediatrician noticed his involuntary horizontal eye movement and subsequently Max was referred to an ophthalmologist. Aggie searched the symptoms online and the word “nystagmus” kept appearing in nearly every result. Aggie and her partner Robert felt worried and anxious about what the future might hold for Max. SENISSUE94


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Guide Dogs children and young people’s services. Guide Dogs then put Aggie and Robert in contact with another parent of a child with the same type of nystagmus and invited them to various Guide Dogs Family Days Out events. Guide Dogs Family Days Out events are a great way for parents to meet with others in a similar situation, while children and their siblings have fun and socialise. There are trained members of Guide Dogs children and young people’s services at every event to give advice and support. Aggie says that the events have helped her and her partner Robert to not feel so alone, she adds: “I soon realised there was so much support available to us. It was so uplifting and gave us hope. I met many families with far more complex needs than Max’s and found them absolutely inspirational.”


Right now, Max’s vision is gradually improving. Aggie and Robert work hard to give him as many opportunities to stimulate his sight as possible. “Max has become more and more curious about the world around him. There is nothing stopping him now. He has the most precious smile.” Aggie and Robert know there are a lot of unknown challenges that they could potentially face in future, but Aggie says: “We are determined to never let him feel different or in any way disadvantaged than any other child.” On Max’s first birthday, his parents held a fundraising event for Guide Dogs as a “thank you”, entitled Give your MAX to the world. Aggie says: “It was a relief talking to somebody who could fully understand me, that could (and still can), guide me on this journey.” 0800 781 1444





Accessing education Online learning can be a good solution for students who aren’t thriving in the classroom, writes Sam Warnes


or children with SEN, one of the toughest barriers to engaging with the curriculum can simply be how intimidating the classroom can feel. With up to 70 per centš of those permanently excluded from school also being registered with SEN, we need to do more to engage students to maintain their attendance and ensure that functional skills are developed among all students, no matter what their situation or environment. Understanding how to navigate the mainstream, or even steer away from it, can give students the chance to sit GCSEs in environments designed for them. The first step we must take is to consider the elements of mainstream classrooms that cause the greatest SENISSUE94

resistance, and what can be done to minimise or avoid them where possible. For example, the sensory issues experienced by children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) are often addressed by helping the student to prepare for the noise levels, smells or changes in seating structure that they can expect during exam conditions. Similarly, creating an environment where children feel comfortable expressing concerns is imperative to ensure they feel supported. Many studies have found that young people with learning difficulties are more likely to experience mental health issues than the general population (FPLD, 2002; Emerson, 2003; Allington-Smith, 2006). To enable students to feel confident going into exams, we must also support

Technology has made tracking student progress easier than ever before

them through feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. Raising awareness and educating the class to be considerate of others’ needs is an important step to take to ensure that all students are treated with respect and kindness. These elements of mainstream education, in addition to general day-to-day distractions, are not helped by the reduced one-on-one WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


time, larger class sizes and everincreasing pressures that teachers face. Of course, we must help all our students achieve their potential, but identifying resources that can prevent feelings of anxiety, disengagement or being overwhelmed, can make a real difference to the number of children attaining qualifications in key functional skills such as English and maths. Furthermore, there are many other routes to providing alternative provision when it comes to the examination process itself.

Going beyond exam adjustments Typically, extra time, a scribe, a text-tospeech function and a quiet room on their own with the invigilator are offered to students with SEN, depending on their needs. There are also alternative routes to building functional skills for students assessed as being unable to cope with the traditional GCSE process, such as the qualifications offered by educational charities and awarding bodies, designed with SEN in mind. This can be a far more comfortable direction if the mainstream provision isn’t up to scratch. However, there are other issues that these adjustments do not overcome. These include the lack of motivation to sit an exam, and the fact that feelings of anxiety might be better addressed by looking at the exam itself and creating personalised pathways to learning and assessment. Technology has made tracking student progress easier than ever before, meaning provision can be adjusted accordingly and adapted to individual ability and academic needs. This is vital when preparing students to sit exams measuring functional skills such as reading, writing and speaking, as these are the attributes needed if we are to prepare students for adult life and employment. However, to take this one step further, being able to access qualifications away from distracting and stressful exam halls can have a WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

really valuable effect on the confidence and achievement of students with SEN. So, we should be offering students who struggle with these feelings an alternative environment to revise in and take advantage of the national examining bodies that allow exams to be taken remotely. Functional skills help us progress through life, so everyone should be given the opportunities to develop them.

Tomas Cusack’s story Clare Cusack was growing increasingly concerned that the revised GCSE English language exam would be too demanding for her son Tomas, who has autism and a language disorder. She turned to online learning as an alternative to the mainstream classroom environment, offering Tomas the chance to shine, by nurturing his natural ability and playing to his strengths. Once he had started using this alternative approach, it was clear that the opportunity had developed his reading and writing skills, but the key was that this was all at his own pace to maintain his self-esteem. A stepping stone qualification was set for him to work towards, which involved a presentation element. Tomas has a keen interest in Switzerland and Swiss trains, so being given the freedom to prepare his presentation on a subject he was passionate about helped to build his confidence and motivation for the exam. Tomas said, “I liked the course and felt less stressed at doing the reading and writing work.” Clare agreed that this alternative approach had engaged Tomas and helped him with techniques he could use in his writing, meaning that he could settle in at college and really thrive. He's still attending his Swiss Train Society meetings and has signed up to do another presentation to the group next year!

It was clear that the opportunity had developed his reading and writing skills

that can help adults too. Whether studying towards SATs, GCSEs, a diploma or an apprenticeship programme, ensuring we provide routes to functional skills for all ages is vital to shaping future generations. And we must do this in a way which allows people with SEN to feel supported to learn and achieve on their own terms. Students with SEN often have the ability to achieve but simply haven’t been given the chance or correct support to fulfil their potential. Adjustments in the classrooms and exams are a great start, but recognising the technology available to create safe spaces away from the sensory overload and pressures of the classroom can make all the difference.

Footnote 1. education/2015/aug/18/childrengcse-excluded-school-specialeducational-needs-sen (accessed 9/4/18).

Further information

Sam Warnes is a former teacher and the founder of virtual learning platform EDLounge:

Preparing for the future Remote learning doesn’t just offer a solution for children, it’s an approach SENISSUE94




Decoding SLCN Jaya Simpson looks at what speech, language and communication needs are and how we can identify them


henever I get together with extended family and old family friends, we start reminiscing about times gone by and the conversation always seems to come around to my talking as a child. Apparently, when I was a toddler I had quite a lot to say. The only problem was that apart from my parents nobody was able to understand me. I would chatter away to my friend “gargot" (Charlotte) about my “backdudee" (blackcurrant) and my “numnee” (dummy) with no awareness that I wasn’t using real words just like everyone else. “How funny that you are helping children to speak!” is as much of a part of our family’s Christmas dinner routine as the turkey, and I haven’t got sick of it yet. At that young age I was lucky enough to have been well supported by my parents and nursery, and was able to “catch up” before it affected my literacy skills. But what about those who don’t?

Why do we care about SLCN? It’s been seven years since the “Hello” National Year of Communication – a campaign to increase parents’ and professionals’ understanding of how important it is for children and young people to develop good communication skills, but much of my professional life is still spent trying to do just that. So why is it so important to raise the profile of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)? What is it about this particular type of SEN that causes it to be forgotten or missed, and why is it so important that we have systems in place to identify those who are struggling? The answer is in the research and evidence; we know that communication is a key factor in making sure that children go on to achieve positive outcomes. It’s widely acknowledged that the development of literacy skills are dependent on language competency (Roulstone et al., 2011), and children who

Communication skills are central to achieving positive outcomes for a child.


It’s widely acknowledged that the development of literacy skills is dependent on language competency struggle with language aged five are six times less likely to achieve the expected standard in English at age 11 (Save The Children, 2016). The implications are wider than academic success too, with these children being more than twice as likely to be unemployed at age 34 and one and a half times more likely to have mental health difficulties (Law et al., 2010).

What do we mean by SLCN? I’ll start by breaking down the three skills that most of us take for granted, that the children I see, think and write about every day find so challenging. Until we’re asked to describe exactly what difficulties we see in a child, it might have never occurred to many of us that it’s possible for a child or young person to have language difficulties but perfectly developed speech, or speech difficulties with great communication skills. At the same time, difficulties often overlap and many children have challenges in more than one area. • Speech refers to speaking with a clear voice, in a way that makes speech sound interesting and meaningful, speaking without hesitating too much or repeating words or sounds and being able to make sounds clearly so people can understand what you say. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



of early identification and makes clear education settings’ responsibility to have policies and strategies in place for identifying and responding where there are concerns that a pupil may have an SEN or disability.

What are we looking for when we are identifying children with SLCN?

With the right early intervention, many children with SLCN catch up with their peers.

• Language refers to talking and understanding, joining words together into sentences, stories and conversations. It’s knowing the right words to explain what you mean and making sense of what people say. • Communication refers to how we interact with others, using language or gestures in different ways, for example to have a conversation or give directions. It’s also being able to understand other people’s points of view and understanding and using body language and facial expressions. SLCN is an umbrella term used to describe children whose speech, language and communication skills do not develop as expected. Children with SLCN might have specific needs such as developmental language disorder (DLD) or speech disorder, but the term also covers those with related diagnoses that affect speech, language and communication skills such as hearing impairment, autism or learning disability.

How many children have SLCN? Research shows that 7.6 per cent of children in the early primary years have DLD – that’s two children in every class of thirty (Norbury et al., 2016). The numbers are even higher in areas of social deprivation, with studies suggesting that up to 50 per cent of WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Up to 50 per cent of children in the most disadvantaged areas start school with SLCN

children in the most disadvantaged areas start school with SLCN (Law et al., 2011). However, only 2.6 per cent of children are identified by the SEN and disabilities system as having SLCN as a primary need, so why are we missing so many children who are likely to need help and support? Difficulties with recruitment of health visitors, poor access to the two-year review and a lack of assessment of speech, language and communication skills within the curriculum after five years are thought to contribute to the issue, as well as inconsistency of provision throughout the UK (The Communication Trust, 2017). With the right early intervention, children make better progress, the longer-term impacts are minimised and many children even catch up. But if we don’t know who the pupils with SLCN are, we can’t begin to provide the support that they need. Without the right support, evidence shows that needs persist and, for some, get worse. The SEN and Disabilities Code of Practice highlights the importance

It is important to know what is expected in terms of speech, language and communication skills for particular ages. Some typical “red flags” to think about at different ages include: • not babbling – the six months to one year period should be all about experimenting with sounds like “bababa” and “mamama” • not pointing – young children begin to draw adults attention to things they can see and hear around the age of 15 months, developing those very early interaction skills • struggling to follow simple directions – children should be able to respond to “get your shoes” or “sit down” at around 20 months, without you pointing or giving them clues that they can see • not beginning to join words – at aged two to three, simple sentences should be starting to appear such as “mummy milk”, or “night-night bear” • unclear speech sounds – by the age of three, not all speech sounds are clear but strangers should be able to understand most of what a child says • not following what is going on in the nursery or classroom – for some children, difficulties become more obvious when they are alongside peers in a structured environment where expectations are higher • struggling with stories – by five, children should able to >> SENISSUE94



describe things that have happened using longer sentences, for example “when I got home I saw an enormous teddy bear sitting on the sofa and mummy said it was mine because I was being good” poor behaviour – behaviour is communication and poor behaviour has been linked to language difficulties in children of all ages not following the rules of conversation – by age nine, children can keep conversations going by adding comments and questions, and understand when people may need more or fewer details, depending on the situation misunderstanding jokes, sayings and sarcasm – young people should have mastered more subtle language skills by their early teenage years not performing as expected in exams – by 18, young people should be able to understand the words that are used in exam and classroom questions, such as “evaluate”, “compile” and “find themes”.

Whose role is it anyway? It is crucial that those working with children on a daily basis are able to identify, support and, where

By the age of three, strangers should be able to understand most of what a child says appropriate, refer children with suspected SLCN; however, a national survey revealed that many aren’t equipped to do this. Around 60 per cent of the children and young people’s workforce reported receiving little or no training on SLCN before starting to work with children, and 45 per cent received little or no further training on SLCN as a part of their continuing professional development. Everyone who comes in contact with a child with suspected SLCN has a role to play in gathering and sharing as much information as possible to identify, support and refer them as quickly as possible. There are screening tools and checklists available to gather this information and involving parents is vital. Support services for children with SLCN vary in terms of referral process and criteria, so make sure that you are familiar with the processes in your area. Settings may have access to NHS speech and language therapists, and some commission additional help from therapy or advisory services.

References Law, J., McBean, K. and Rush, R. (2011), Communication skills in a population of primary schoolaged children raised in an area of pronounced social disadvantage. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 46: 657–664.doi:10.1111/j.14606984.2011.00036.x Law, J. et al. (2010), Modelling developmental language difficulties from school entry into adulthood. Journal of speech, language and hearing research, 52, 1401-1416 Norbury, C. F., Gooch, D., Wray, C., Baird, G., Charman, T., Simonoff, E., Vamvakas, G. and Pickles, A. (2016), The impact of nonverbal ability on prevalence and clinical presentation of language disorder: evidence from a population study. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 57: 1247–1257. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12573 Rousltone, S., Law, J., Rush,R., Clegg, J. and Peters, T. (2011), Investigating the role of language in children’s early educational outcomes DfE Research Report 134 Save the Children (2016) Early Language development and children’s primary school attainment in English and maths: new research findings. London: Save the Children The Communication Trust. (2017), Talking About a Generation – Current Policy, Evidence and Practice for Speech, Language and Communication.

Further information

Jaya Simpson is a Professional Advisor at The Communication Trust, a coalition of over 50 notfor-profit organisations concerned with supporting the speech, language and communication needs of children and young people in England: Information and a number of free resources which can assist you to identify children with SLCN can be found on the “Identifying SLCN” page of The Trust’s website.

All teaching staff should be able to recognise key indicators of possible SLCN.









Shining a light on speech, language and communication Robert Craig reviews the awards that celebrate best practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development


he 2018 Shine a Light Awards took place at a recent ceremony in London. Run by learning company Pearson, in partnership with The Communication Trust, the Awards recognised 17 individuals and teams across ten award categories, as well as children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The Awards highlight the best practice that is taking place across the country, showcasing the outstanding work that is being done to change the lives of children and young people by developing their communication skills.

Stoke Speaks Out won both the Innovation and the Outstanding Achievement Awards.

Dedicated to helping others Pip St John from Blackburn was awarded the Communication Champion Award for showing incredible dedication to enhancing the communication skills of children by training school staff and sharing advice and information, whilst overcoming a personal battle with stage 3 breast cancer. Pip has created the Pre-Teaching Vocabulary (PTV) programme which aims to help children needing extra language support. She has made this an entirely free resource and it is accessible online to anyone who needs it. Libby Hill from Uttoxeter walked away with the Katie Rough Memorial Award, which recognises the work of those helping children with selective mutism (SM), in memory of Katie Rough who had SM and sadly died in 2017. Dedicated to raising awareness of a condition few have heard of, Libby has set up free SM training sessions in Derbyshire and Staffordshire and has established training sessions WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Awards highlight the best practice that is taking place across the country in Manchester. She also regularly dedicates her free time, with no charge, to those with SLCN who cannot afford to pay, and voluntarily runs her local branch of Afasic. Sheer dedication to providing fantastic speech and language support to children in Stoke resulted in Stoke Speaks Out receiving not only the SLCN Innovation Award but the Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award too. Their innovative Early Communication Screen (ECS), to improve the school readiness of children from two to five, has positively impacted thousands of local children. Commissioned by the local authority, and written by Clinical Lead Speech/Language Therapist Janet

Cooper and her team from Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP), the ECS is designed to be used by early years practitioners to identify early language delay and measure children’s progress over time. Almost 7,000 children have been screened so far, with more than 1,800 regional practitioners trained to use the programme to date.

Truly inspirational The number of excellent applications received showcased the work of individuals and teams who help children and young people. In addition, applications highlighted children and young people with SLCN themselves who have achieved things beyond their wildest dreams. 12-year old Jonathan Bryan who has severe cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, oxygen-dependent, and also non-verbal >> SENISSUE94



was awarded the Young Person of the Year Award. Showing sheer dedication and determination in developing his own communication skills and also raising awareness of profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), the judges felt he was a well-deserved winner. Through the support of his family and his use of a low-tech eye gaze system, Jonathan is now in mainstream secondary school, he has personally established the Teach Us Too campaign, which urges professionals to recognise the unlocked potential of their pupils and not teach to labels, created a documentary, “Locked-in Boy”, which was recently aired on CBBC, and is currently in the final stages of writing an autobiography. Siena Castellon was highly commended in the same category. Aged 15, Siena is autistic, dyslexic and dyspraxic. After severe bullying forced her to move secondary school on two occasions, Siena drew on her experiences to become an influential young figure in children’s communication development. At just 13 years of age, spotting the lack of online assistance available for young people, Siena designed and created a website to support

and mentor children with autism and other disabilities. Since then, she has written various articles to address communication issues related to autism. Every year, the Shine a Light judging panel is blown away by the standard of applications. It becomes harder and harder to pick the winners but it’s fantastic to see the hard work and dedication of people across the country getting some well-deserved recognition.

Pearson Outstanding Achievement Award and SLCN Innovation of the Year Award Stoke Speaks Out, Stoke The Katie Rough Memorial Award Libby Hill, Uttoxeter Child/Young Person of the Year Award Jonathan Bryan, Wiltshire Communication Champion of the Year Award Pip St John, Lancashire Youth Justice of the Year Award Manchester Youth Justice, Manchester Early Years Setting of the Year Award Children’s House Nursery School, London Primary School of the Year Award Pendle Primary Academy, Lancashire

Young Person of the Year Jonathan Bryan with his mother.

SEN School of the Year Pontville School in Ormskirk, Lancashire was awarded the SEN School/ Group of the Year Award. Communication underpins everything at Pontville, from the first 12 weeks of a pupil’s journey, when detailed assessments are made, to the pupil’s very last day at the school. Bespoke approaches to SLCN include a siblings group, home communication programmes, and parent/pupil target reviews. Pontville School is part of the Witherslack Group and benefits from sharing clinical services and speech and language therapists (SaLT) from across 15 provisions throughout England. They work collaboratively with the school’s PSHE Coordinator to create a school-wide plan for communication which is incorporated across all subject areas. Alongside this, pupils attend weekly SaLT sessions and practice a range of communication skills. New staff members undertake a six-week training course delivered by clinical services teams, and all staff receive regular top-up training from SaLT, with the SaLTs themselves supported to undertake higher-level professional qualifications.


Shine a Light 2018 Award winners

Secondary School/College of the Year Award Isaac Newton Academy, London SEN School/Group of the Year Award Pontville School, Lancashire

Further information

Robert Craig is Head of Pearson Clinical, which publishes standardised assessments and interventions for professionals working with children and adults in health, education and psychology settings: For information about the Awards, visit:




Grounds for concern With play provision in decline, it’s time to recognise the importance of outdoor play for all children, writes Mark Hardy


espite the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stating that children have the right to play, opportunities for outdoor play are dwindling. The Association of Play Industries has uncovered an alarming decline in playground provision across England. To obtain an accurate picture of local authority playground provision in England, the Association submitted freedom of information requests to 326 local authorities. 283 local authorities responded, revealing that between 2014 and 2016, 214 playgrounds had been closed, with a further 234 planned closures between 2016 and 2019. Councils cited lack of budget to maintain, repair or replace equipment as reasons for the closures. With no dedicated funding for playgrounds from central government or grants from third sector institutions like the Big Lottery Fund, the provision and upkeep of play spaces falls on local authority budgets which are also being squeezed. Play is fundamental to children’s emotional, social, cognitive and physical development. Many children do not have gardens or outside space, so their local playground represents one of their few opportunities to enjoy outdoor play

Play is fundamental to children’s emotional, social, cognitive and physical development and activity. These cuts will negatively impact children of all abilities, fuelling the childhood obesity crisis as more and more children stay indoors and engage in sedentary and solitary activities on their phones and tablets.

Health and wellbeing Evidence is also mounting about the positive association between outdoor play, physical activity and mental health. The benefits of physical activity and unstructured play in good quality, well-maintained and stimulating public playgrounds cannot be overlooked. Research from Fields in Trust shows for the first time at national level a direct and statistically significant link between public parks and green spaces and health and wellbeing. The research establishes a link between an individual's use of parks and green spaces and an improvement in their physical health, life satisfaction, sense

of worth, happiness and anxiety levels. But despite this, UK parks, playgrounds and green spaces are under threat and facing an uncertain future. As the number of play spaces in the community declines, schools’ playgrounds are becoming increasingly important, often representing the only opportunity some children have for outdoor play. For children with SEN, this can be particularly important, as access to suitable play areas can be even more restricted. Schools play a vital role in encouraging children of all abilities to be active. Every school has its own unique, diverse requirements and any new play area must reflect that diversity. With care and planning, the play opportunities that schools provide can help to fill the gap created by local authority budget cuts to play provision. Many schools are looking to provide the best possible facilities for their pupils whatever their abilities, by improving accessibility within existing playgrounds or by creating brand new inclusive outdoor spaces. All children are naturally hardwired to play and it is essential for their development and wellbeing. If inactivity becomes the norm, increasing numbers of children of all abilities will find their lives blighted by poor mental health, obesity and social isolation. For children, play is not a luxury, it is a basic human right.

Further information Mark Hardy is Chair of the Association of Play Industries: Schools have an important role in encouraging children to be active.









Wristband Challenge helps get kids active Thousands of schoolchildren have been getting active as part of a health drive set up by Leeds Beckett University. The 30:30 Wristband Challenge was launched in October 2017 to help boost physical activity among the city’s primary school pupils. It has been so successful that the project has now been expanded to include secondary school pupils. The challenge was designed following government recommendations that primary schools should provide 30 minutes of physical activity for each child every day, towards a daily target of 60 minutes. Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education established a bronze, silver and gold wristband challenge to encourage primary pupils to meet those targets. Paul Ogilvie, Senior Consultant in Physical Education at Leeds Beckett, said: “The response from children and their schools has been phenomenal”. More than 3,000 pupils have already earned their bronze certificates, and are now working towards the next stage. “We have recently launched the secondary school version of the wristband challenge and, due to popular demand, are now actively inviting adults in schools to take part too”, said Mr Ogilvie. Physical activity includes all forms of activity that increase the heart rate, such as brisk walking, active play, cycling and sports. SENISSUE94

As well as increasing physical activity levels during the week, the scheme aims to get pupils to change their habits and improve their fitness and wellbeing. Youngsters who achieve the minimum 30 minutes a day for a half term are awarded a bronze wristband. An additional full term will be rewarded with a silver wristband and pupils who commit to the challenge for the full school year will win a gold wristband. To take part, pupils complete a simple data collection sheet with their parents to keep track of their physical activity levels and help build an insight into what motivates pupils to change their activity habits. Further details are available at WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Special feature


50 Can we level the playing field? Improving participation and making sport more inclusive 53

The power of boccia The sport designed specifically for people with a disability


Football’s goals for autism What are football clubs doing to support fans with autism on match days?


No barriers to bikes The benefits of all-ability cycling





Can we level the playing field? Elizabeth Morgan and Carina Taylor discuss ways of improving participation in sport for young people with disabilities


hen the UK hosted the 2012 Paralympic Games it was seen as a turning point. There were record crowds, more athletes and countries taking part than ever before, and media coverage that spanned the globe. Research by the Games’ organisers found that eight out of ten British adults believed that the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way people with an impairment were viewed by the public. A common view was that the Paralympic Games were about ability, not disability. Five years on and we discovered that half of all disabled children do not feel comfortable taking part in sport. Last summer saw the publication of Sporting opportunities for children with disabilities: Is there a Level Playing Field? The report, commissioned by children’s charity Variety, identified two major barriers to participation in sport: social stigma and costs. Sport doesn't just have an impact on our bodies, it also impacts on mood and mental health, as Dr Miriam Stoppard's comments on the Level Playing Field report stress: “The participation of

Participating in sport is good for physical and mental health.


Children with physical disabilities require more, not less, access to sport

children with disabilities in any physical activity can minimise the complications of immobility. Not only does it keep them physically and mentally fit, it also fosters independence, coping abilities and working with other team members.”

New challenges Every year, more premature babies and more children with disabilities and complex conditions will survive. Many will have physical disabilities and we must provide appropriate challenges and the best sports coaching to help them become the respected athletes of tomorrow. We need to: • adapt the challenges; while long jump may be impossible for some, we can see how far a student can go in three seconds or with three pushes of their wheelchair • adapt the activities; sliding, weaving in and out of obstacles, and scrambling under and over equipment can all build body strength • think about different sports, such as new age curling, boccia, power chair football, archery and wheelchair basketball • look for alternative equipment; using a softball, a smaller or larger ball or having smaller teams can mean that students with limited mobility can be

on the same team as their classmates • train as many staff as possible so they are confident in what they are doing and so that including young people with physical disabilities becomes the norm • make sure to reassess regularly because the capabilities of young people with spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and degenerative conditions can decline quite suddenly • develop an ethos that every child should try every sport. Children with physical disabilities require more, not less, access to sport and physical exercise to build muscles and physical resilience and to maintain and improve core stability, which can be weakened by long spells in a wheelchair or bed. Many will benefit from physiotherapy to counteract a tendency to obesity and health problems. If schools don't encourage children to take up sport, many will be confined to a life of inactivity. Specialist staff, therapists, sports teachers and coaches, mainstream and special schools, parents and students all need to work together to prove that no activity is impossible.

Further information

Elizabeth Morgan and Carina Taylor are from Chadsgrove School, a specialist sports college in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. It has an outreach team that shares expertise with 110 other schools and three colleges:



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Daily movement creates a strong foundation for sports and life By Bethany Friedrich, Tumbl Trak Special Needs Coordinator What is inclusive sport? Inclusive sport programs offer opportunities for children with and without disabilities to compete and accomplish goals together in a non-threatening, integrated group. This environment does not discriminate or segregate people with disabilities, allowing a rich and diverse experience for all involved.

What does inclusion look like? • Inclusion celebrates diversity and accepts differences. • Inclusion provides a welcoming environment that fosters a sense of belonging. • Inclusion provides an accommodating environment that allows everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential. • Inclusion honours the strengths of each individual, creating a culture full of empowered and happy people.

Laying the groundwork Inclusion is often seen as the end goal for children with disabilities. If inclusion is the goal, how do we, as parents, educators and therapists, help to prepare children for participation? Keep in mind, all children can participate in inclusive sport, no matter what their ability level. Adaptations should be made to accommodate each child. However, one of the best things we can do for our children is provide them with as many opportunities as possible to move. If children are climbing, jumping, navigating obstacles and moving their bodies throughout the day, they will not only be developing movement basics for sports, they will also be preparing their brains for learning.

Equipment to promote movement Our three favourite pieces of equipment to help children build strength, coordination and spatial awareness include Tumbl Trak’s Laser Beam, Air Barrel and Fitness Wheel. Laser Beam The foundation for nearly every sport is good balance and body control. This is exactly what the Laser Beam teaches children. The Laser Beam is similar to a typical balance beam, but is wider (18cm) and sits only 5cm off the ground. These modifications make Laser Beam Lite, 2.4m length. it the ideal tool for teaching children with SEN how to balance. The lines help children define the space while also telling them where their body is in space. Every time a child steps on the Laser Beam they are strengthening their core as they work to maintain their position on the beam. SENISSUE94

Air Barrel The Air Barrel is excellent for developing upper body strength and coordination. When children lay on top of the Air Barrel they can push off the ground, from their feet to their hands, improving their bilateral coordination, while also developing the muscles Air Barrel, 60cm diameter. in their hands, shoulders and legs. This inversion position prepares children for similar movements found in gymnastics, martial arts and swimming, while also helping to integrate their sensory systems. Challenge the core by sitting on top and working to stay upright while rocking from side-to-side. Fitness Wheel The Fitness Wheel is a wellrounded product that can be used in an endless number of ways to benefit the entire body. The tramp bed allows for jumping and increases leg strength, while the air filled sides provide opportunities for balance and conquering obstacles. If you want a product that does it all, you’ll love the small or large Fitness Wheel! To help develop grip strength, a transferable skill important for tennis or golf, try attaching Recreational Rings to the inside handles for opportunities to hang.

Fitness Wheel, 2.4m diameter.

With increased opportunities to move and play, children of all ability levels will begin to feel comfortable in their bodies and confident navigating their worlds. By providing children with this foundation, we are not only setting them up to be successful in whatever sport they choose to play, but also in every aspect of their lives. For more information on Tumbl Trak products visit: Use Promo Code TTSEN94 to save.



The power of boccia Jane Thomas talks to Paralympians the McCowan brothers about the sport designed specifically for people with a disability


f it wasn’t for boccia, the McCowan brothers would not be able to compete in sport. Scott and Jamie both have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disease. Scott has appeared at two Paralympic Games while younger brother Jamie made his debut in Rio in 2016. They were teammates in the same category. Boccia can serve as something of a lifeline to those with severe disabilities. Scott explains: “Boccia is the only sport for people with disabilities like mine. We can’t really do any other sport. People with severe disabilities need to know that there are opportunities to meet people, to be competitive, to be social. “I love competing against other people. I have friends all over the world from various tournaments. People think it’s easy to play at first but once you get involved you realise how tense and tactical it can be and how accurate you have to be to play.” Of course, you don’t have to be a World Champion to play and enjoy boccia. It is the fastest growing Paralympic sport with clubs springing up around the country. Boccia can be played and enjoyed by all at club level, including non-disabled people, but elite competitors must have impairments in all four limbs. The sport was originally created for people with cerebral palsy but has widened and evolved to include those with spastic hypertonia, dystonia, athetosis and ataxia or severe locomotor dysfunction such as muscular skeletal disorders and limb deformities.

What is boccia? Boccia (pronounced bot-cha) is a disability sport that tests muscle control and accuracy. Players propel balls to land close to a white target ball (or jack). Two sides compete as individuals, pairs or a team of three over a set number


A ramp can be used by boccia players who are unable to propel the ball with hands or feet.

Boccia can be played and enjoyed by all at club level

of ends. Each side has six balls (red or blue) each end to try and score points. Points are accumulated over the course of a match to find a winner. It is a straightforward sport, which helps beginners to get started. But, as skills improve, the tactics of the sport offer both tension and excitement. A ball can be rolled, thrown or even kicked. If a player is unable to throw or kick the ball, they can use a ramp. If players are unable to release the ball with their hands, they can use assistive devices such as a head or hand pointer. Scott’s condition means if he doesn’t use his muscles, they get weaker. Playing sport slows down this process and the more he uses his muscles, the more he can maintain his range of movement. And he urges younger people to get involved: “Often people think they can’t play a sport because of their disability. Sometimes there is a nervousness in case it worsens a condition. But really people should play

as soon as possible. Boccia keeps me active and fit, which is crucial for my quality of life. And in terms of mental wellbeing, the sociable side of the sport is fantastic and it can help boost confidence and self-esteem too.”

World Boccia Championships The BISFed 2018 World Boccia Championships will take place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool from 12 to 18 August 2018 and will attract over 190 athletes from around 30 competing nations.

Further information

Information on boccia is available from: Boccia England: Scottish Disability Sport: Disability Sport Wales: Disability Sport Northern Ireland:




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How sport can benefit young people with an ASD diagnosis By Sarah Sherwood, Director of SEN at LVS Oxford and LVS Hassocks A focus on social and emotional wellbeing is a key area in which schools can enhance the development of students with autism, with access to outdoor space for sport and exercise something that can be of huge benefit. Studies have shown… A number of studies have found that physical exercise reduces the levels of cortisol in the body. The adrenaline rush that causes the fight/flight/freeze response in autistic individuals is maintained if the individual has high cortisol levels, therefore extending the period of behaviours of concern. This, along with the other more obvious health benefits such as maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the likelihood of depression, indicates that regular physical exercise should be a component part of any programme for an individual with ASD. Just 20 minutes or more of aerobic exercise at least three times a week can result in a decrease of stereotypic behaviours and other behaviours of concern. A prime example of this is Marcus, 15, at LVS Oxford. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and requires regular movement breaks to aid his concentration in lessons, using the outdoor trampoline and trim trail during these breaks. He also plays football, rugby, hockey, tennis, javelin and badminton. Marcus said: “Sport helps me feel calmer and better able to focus on my studies. I really enjoy all the sports we do in school”. Taking on the sporting challenge Participation in physical exercise may be a challenge for some individuals with ASD due to motor planning difficulties, low motivation and sensory differences, all of which impact on ability to participate. However, skills for physical education can be taught in the same way that any new skill is taught, by breaking

it down into smaller parts and rewarding successful achievement of each component. At LVS Oxford and LVS Hassocks, both schools for students with autism, staff adopt this approach along with other autism strategies to ensure each individual is able to participate.

What schools can do For some activities, visuals are used to indicate where a student should stand, or larger balls or bats are used to ensure success when coordination may be a challenge. The sessions are broken down for students (for example, warm up, individual skills practice, pack away equipment) so they can monitor their progress through the activity. Staff use clear, precise language and allow extra processing time for students due to the additional demands of the session. A range of physical activities are offered at the schools and for those who do not enjoy team games, swimming, running and trips to the gym are offered as they require fewer social cues. Sports Day Sports Day allows students to try different things, with the activities catering for varying abilities. Inter-school events are also valuable in offering students opportunities to compete against other young people with similar challenges to themselves, raising the confidence and self-esteem of participants. A future through sport? For those with a real passion for sport, it can even provide a focus for future careers. LVS Oxford helped Ben secure a work placement at a local gym where he supported members with their personal exercise programmes and helped staff with the day-to-day running of the gym. Ben said: “My work experience helped me learn about the gym equipment and the exercise programmes offered. I’m now working hard on my maths, English and other subjects so I can gain qualifications and hopefully get an apprenticeship in a gym or a place on a sports course at college.” For more information, go to: or









Football’s goals for autism Alex Manners looks at what football clubs are doing to improve the match-day experience for fans with autism


or many people with autism, going to football matches can be challenging. The crowds, the noises and the smells inside and outside the grounds, as well as the close proximity of other people, are often too distressing for them. No two match days are the same and this unpredictability can be difficult, as people with autism tend to struggle when they don’t know what to expect. Sometimes, parents of autistic children have to leave games early in order to relieve their child of the stress and anxiety that the experience is causing them. Most, if not all, football clubs have designated areas and seats for people with physical disabilities, but the majority of clubs don’t have specific areas for people who have hidden disabilities like autism. There are, though, a number of ways that clubs can help autistic people and many are starting to take notice and put things in place.

Many clubs are starting to take action to make grounds more autism friendly.

Sensory rooms

They wanted people with autism and their families to be able to attend games just like everyone else

In 2015, Sunderland FC opened the Nathan Shippey Sensory Room. This was the first sensory room to be introduced at a UK football ground and was a huge success. The room was named after a young supporter who had autism and found the atmosphere inside the ground too much to cope with. After trying many different areas within the stadium to watch matches, Nathan’s family proposed that a sensory room be provided at the ground for people with autism and other sensory difficulties. Sunderland FC supported their idea, installed the Sensory Room and became an example for other organisations to follow.

The Shippey Campaign has now gained charity status and it pushing for similar facilities to be developed at other sporting venues. Since 2015, Arsenal, Watford, Southampton, West Brom, Airdrie, Rangers, Notts County, Middlesbrough, Burton Albion and Liverpool have all created their own sensory rooms. In February 2017, Airdrie became the first Scottish club to install one. Their motto, “Football for Everyone”, is prominently displayed at the Club and they wanted people with autism and their families to be able to attend games just like everyone else. Called the Diamond Sensory Room, it


includes a sensory bubble tube, a softie with florescent tubes, a tactile carpet that changes colour, and a projector that shows images on the floor, as well as bean bags and sensory toys. The room is used on all match days and is also going to be used by schools. Rangers decided to install their own sensory room when one of the Club’s Disability Matters Group members pointed out that the Club did not have any quiet zones. They don’t just restrict the room’s use to people with autism but also encourage those with a range of learning difficulties to use it as well. Most sensory rooms at football clubs overlook the pitch. However, some clubs, including Arsenal and Watford, have sensory rooms as well as viewing rooms that look out onto the pitch. At Middlesbrough FC, all staff working in their sensory room are either teachers or people who work with children. Before every match, they take their sensory room users for a walk around the pitch WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


to allow them to become familiar with the stadium. After the game, they have an awards ceremony where children are presented with medals and goody bags. Arsenal FC have demonstrated a good understanding of the needs of people with autism and other learning difficulties and are implementing solutions that are really making a difference. Their sensory room opened in September 2017 and has been used at every game since. They also have two viewing rooms that link to the sensory room to allow the individuals and their parents to watch the games in a safe and tailored environment. The sensory room includes many light and sound based items, such as a projector that projects an Arsenal badge onto the wall, as the Club are very big on what they call “Arsenalisation”. The facilities also allow them to project over 150 different games onto the carpet. The room has an infinity tunnel, a soft remote and remote cube, so children can impact on their environment, and disco lights. Arsenal FC say they want everyone to be able to access their facilities. As they are a big part of the local community, they allow their sensory room to be used on non-match days by local schools and charities. Children who have no interest in being involved in a match day can therefore still be a part of the Club. The Club work with many individuals who have learning difficulties and provide much more than just a sensory room.

Some clubs are installing sensory rooms for fans with sensory issues.


They have open access football sessions on Friday evenings and also provide photographic sensory stories. They are currently looking at new ways in which they can become more autism friendly. Luke Howard, who works for Arsenal in the Community, believes the Club’s sensory room is proving to be a success: “the fact that we get repeat requests clearly implies that people appreciate this provision”, he says.

Simple adjustments Whilst some football clubs have installed sensory rooms, others don’t have the money or the space to be able to provide one. However, this does not mean that they can’t still put things in place for people with autism; indeed, there is a whole host of things that can be done. For example, although Everton FC don’t have a sensory room, all of their head stewards are trained in recognising issues relating to autism. They have also introduced systems to ensure people with autism can enter the ground in the easiest way possible. They allow them to enter through gates, as traditional turnstiles can be an issue for those on the autistic spectrum, and trained stewards are available to escort them to their seats early, before the main bulk of supporters arrive. The Club can also provide fans with sensory aids such as ear defenders. Autism Wessex recently started a campaign along with their Ambassador, football manager Harry Redknapp, to make football more autism friendly. The campaign is focusing on helping football clubs to make small changes that will enable autistic people to have a much more enjoyable match-day experience. AFC Bournemouth supporter Jack, who is just eight years old, has played a key part in raising autism awareness locally. Along with his dad, he will be a pivotal part of the campaign. AFA Hammers are an autism friendly football team formed in 2016 by Awareness for Autism UK. They run two sessions a week and seek to give children with autism the belief that they too can play football. About 30 children

Trained stewards are available to escort them to their seats early, before the main bulk of supporters arrive attend these sessions each week. Awareness for Autism also has a charity football team that is dedicated to raising awareness and funds through charity football matches. They have even had some former professionals playing for them. Whilst the Football Association (FA) stipulates how many wheelchair spaces clubs have to provide, it does not say how many spaces or the types of facilities clubs should provide for people with autism or other SEN. If the FA were to introduce such rules, this would clearly be a big step forward. As a hidden disability, autism is often something that people do not notice. However, every club can play their part and make positive changes to ensure fans with autism have a fun and enjoyable match day. As Arsenal’s Luke Howard says about accommodating people with autism at the Club: “It’s not making your life any more difficult, but it’s making someone else’s life a lot easier”. No matter how big or small a change may be, every little bit helps.

Further information

Alex Manners is 21 and has Asperger’s syndrome. Alex makes promotional videos for local companies and sports clubs in the West Midlands. He also presents his own radio show for children, and is currently pitching his idea for an autism and football documentary to programme commissioners:





No barriers to bikes With bikes to suit all abilities, everyone can enjoy the benefits of cycling, writes Jim McGurn


lifetime of promoting inclusive cycling has taught me three things at least. The first is that anyone caring for the wellbeing of young people with special educational needs should seriously look at offering them cycling opportunities. It’s only fair. The second is that there are cycles out there for every need; there are no limitations because pedal-powered technology is seemingly infinitely adaptive. The third is that any school, college or individual can get into cycling at a level which suits their situation, budget and comfort zone. The arguments for inclusive cycling are so overwhelming that I need all my digits to count them off: independent mobility, physical empowerment, cardiovascular health, muscle strength, mental health, access to the outdoors, SENISSUE94

Having the wind in your hair is an experience with real therapeutic value

social inclusion, skills development, equality of opportunity and just plain fun. Having the wind in your hair is an experience with real therapeutic value. Cycling stimulates the senses with the sounds, smells and sensations of the real world. It is unique in its ability to harness an individual’s energy, multiplying it four or five-fold, and converting it into exciting movement.

Types of bikes The cycles available range from street-cred two-wheelers through

to wheelchair transporter tricycles. The spectrum includes trikes, quadricycles, side-by sides, steerfrom-the-rear tandems, hand-cranked trikes, wheelchair clip-on handcranks, wheelchair tandems and one-up-onedown recumbent tandem trikes. Most of these formats can have their own subspecies. Take singlerider tricycles, for example; these can be very liberating, providing a stable platform for those with poor balance. You can stop any time and rest, without putting a foot down, or pedal in very low gears at speeds which would be impossibly slow on a bicycle.

Meeting needs But which tricycle should you choose? They can have almost any combination of the following attributes: fixed wheel single gear, freewheel with gears, two WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


If your school is looking to start a fleet, contact your local authority; they may have funding to help

Bikes are available to meet the individual child’s needs.

wheels to rear, two wheels to front, recumbent, semi-recumbent, heavy duty for obese riders, back-pedal brake, or handlebar brake, folding, foot-powered, hand-powered, footand-hand powered, carer’s steering handle at the back, with or without electric assist, different wheel sizes and different frame sizes. This list goes on. I make that at least 800 combinations! All these formats are commercially available, or easily adapted from existing formats, and

it’s the suppliers’ responsibility to have the specialised knowledge to get it precisely right for your user’s needs. Of course, it gets a lot easier if you start with the individual’s needs and not with the technology! Those with profound disabilities will need a fairly complex machine and the possible addition of extra-low gearing, fixed wheel transmission, restricted steering, harnesses, special seats, pedal platforms and (very rarely) specially made components with nonstandard dimensions. Sometimes all that is needed is the fitting of a twin-cable brake on one side of the handlebar, for someone with unequal hand strengths. But whatever the disability, the aim is always to select the machine which most closely meets

the individual’s needs and then finetune and adapt it if necessary.

Bikes for schools How does a typical full-spectrum special school meet most cycling needs? A multi-purpose fleet might include a wheelchair tandem, a wheelchair transporter, a handcycle, a steer-from-the-rear (SFTR) tandem, an SFTR tandem trike, a side by side companion trike or quad, and maybe four different types of tricycle, plus, perhaps, some very robust twowheelers for able-bodied students with learning or behavioural challenges. Not forgetting quick-release (so swappable) specialised pedals. If your school is looking to start a fleet, contact your local authority; they may have funding to help. They are also likely to have qualified cycle trainers on their books, with budgets attached, although their skills are (initially) unlikely to encompass working in special schools and colleges. And remember that raising funds for disabled children to cycle is one of the most appealing causes for fund-raisers and corporate donors. The cycles are tangible, fascinating and media friendly. There’s also the great synergy between a fundraising bike ride challenge and the fact that you are seeking to raise money to enable your clients and students to access the same cycling pleasures.

Further information

Jim McGurn is Chief Executive of Get Cycling, a not-for-profit community interest company specialising in inclusive cycling. He has a son with Down syndrome and autism. Get Cycling operate nationally, offering advice and try-out events, as well as new and refurbished cycles, and specialised adaptations: Adapted cycles can offer a high level of freedom whilst maintaining safety and security.





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Top tech trends Eleanor Overland outlines ten key developments in technology that are being used to support learners with SEN and disabilities 10. Touch screens There is nothing worse than having to use a fading projector, a board that doesn’t align, speakers that pop in and out, and interactive functions that are now a distant memory. For learners with SEN, such a setup can be highly problematic. Interactive touch screens are the latest addition to classroom display and are a lot more robust. Many now support touch points from many fingers at the same time, allowing pupils to work collaboratively on interactive resources and software. They do not need aligning, so the touch points are far more accurate making it easier for pupils to use them to write and draw straight onto the screen.

Without the need of projectors, the clarity of the screens is much improved and the built in speakers make them ideal for showing video and other multimedia content. Most also have plug in points for headphones or additional speakers, should enhanced sound be required for hearing impaired learners. Trolley mounted screens allow use in different locations and many are also height adjustable, although the touch screen tables may be a better solution for learners with limited mobility.

9. Online classroom spaces Many free platforms are available to share information tasks and homework with learners. For those who prefer to complete work digitally or struggle

Many free platforms are available to share information tasks and homework with learners

with organisation, these platforms can provide a real structure to organise lessons and resources, and submit tasks. They are also a great way to connect with parents and carers if the learners are accessing them away from the classroom. The spaces are organised and controlled by the teachers themselves

More and more schools are encouraging pupils to use their own tech devices in class.




A “Microbot” made by Year 10 pupils at a special school in the North-West.

ensuring a secure space for learners to have discussions and peer assess work. There are many free platforms online and they are very simple to get started.

8. Block-based programming and plug-in devices The move from ICT to computing can seem quite daunting for any nonspecialist teacher but block-based programming is an accessible starting point for all types of learners. The bright colours, drag and drop approach, ability to zoom and interactivity with screen readers allows most learners to use such approaches. Mitch Resnick, the creator of “Scratch” has recorded an interesting TED talk on the reasons behind his invention and why it will always be free and accessible for all. Free apps allow younger children to make use of block-based programming. Many make no use of text and so allow children, even with little or no literacy, to program animations and create games. Adding plug in devices, like the BBC Micro:Bits (provided free to all Year 7 pupils two years ago), allows children to develop tangible projects with physical results using block-based programming.

7. Robotics Put your Micro:Bit in a box, connect some wheels and you have an instant, programmable robot! This is just one WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

affordable solution for bringing robots to the classrooms but there are now many kits available for learners. Being able to code something physical really brings computational thinking alive. Robotics leads to important discussions around how robots are going to impact the future. There are many inspiring videos online of robots running whole warehouses, driving cars and even carrying out brain surgery. This may open up a whole world of freedoms or career aspirations that may otherwise be closed to some learners with SEN and disabilities.

6. Online rewards and celebrations of success Many apps and new software features allow teachers to reward learners with praise and digital points in recognition of progress. These are easy to share with families and the wider school community, and social media is a great way to share good work and great achievements. Digital badges are one such way to recognise achievements. Where pupils may not be completing formal qualifications, digital badges are a wonderful opportunity to recognise skills and award pupils for their achievements. For older learners, the Duke of York has launched IDEA (Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award) to recognise digital skills without the formality of examinations; IDEA badges can be added to a student’s “digital backpack” or social media pages and are a valuable addition to any CV.

5. Bring your own device (BYOD) Changes to funding have resulted in very little money being available for education settings to spend on purchasing technology and renewing ageing computing equipment. The Educational Technology Action Group (ETAG, 2014) support the idea of a BYOD program in schools. It is more cost efficient for schools to provide equipment for the small number of pupils who do not have their own


Mainstream software and products are now including a greater number of tools to increase the accessibility of their products devices rather than trying to fund provision for all. Whilst this is a challenging notion to start to introduce, it is certainly one that can have many benefits for pupils with SEN and disabilities. Where leaners need technology to support a range of subjects, require specialist software to help them in their work and benefit from specific settings to improve accessibility, it would seem obvious to formalise an arrangement where pupils can use this equipment consistently between home and school. Many schools are now developing this approach and different policies and discussions of BYOD implementation are available to explore online.

4. Adaptive computing products Both established educational suppliers and start-ups are realising the importance of ensuring that new computing products cater for all types of learners. Products such as tactile blocks to allow visually impaired learners to code are coming new to the market alongside older but still useful products such as lowercase keyboards and pen sized text readers. At the same time, mainstream software and products are now including a greater number of tools to increase the accessibility of their products. For example, the latest word processing software all includes some level of voice recognition dictation tools and screen readers. The accuracy is quite impressive so it is worth >> SENISSUE94



exploring the functionality with any mainstream products first and then investing in adaptive products only when necessary.

3. Computing unplugged! Away from restraints of computers, how do you engage learners and encourage computational thinking? Computing At School (CAS) is the subject association for computing and it is free for anyone to join. They have a wonderful series of resources and CPD to get you started with unplugged activities (“Barefoot” for primary pupils and “Tenderfoot” for secondary age) and have developed a specific pack for pupils with SEN and disabilities. CAS #include are the branch of the organisation dedicated to inclusive computing education. They have a range of toolkits, resources, videos and role model posters to celebrate computing being accessible for everyone. Some regions also have specific CAS hub meetings for those working with learners with SEN and disabilities.

2. Virtual reality Take your learners for a walk on the moon or swimming with sharks! All of this is now possible with virtual reality

Take your learners for a walk on the moon or swimming with sharks! All of this is now possible with VR

visually impaired, digitally enhancing images and recreating aspects that may actually be in the user’s “blind spot”. There is hope that this technology will soon be built into everyday glasses to continually enhance the experience of visual impaired people.

1. Voice recognition

(VR) headsets and phone apps. Simple trips to museums can be done through VR with teachers even able to act as a guide pointing out particular features. Platforms are now freely available for learners to create their own VR environments, for example adding their own artwork to a gallery. VR headsets can be purchased very cheaply, particularly if you are just wanting to view VR content rather than interact using controllers. Whilst cardboard VR glasses are inexpensive, they are not the most comfortable and plastic ones with padding around the eyes are now almost as cheap. Some are also adjustable to accommodate the wearer’s own glasses and most will take any size of phone. Some of the largest companies investing in VR are developing the most incredible VR solutions to help the

My daughter received a voice activated digital assistant for Christmas. “Play my music!” “Set my alarm for 7.30.” “What is the weather going to be like today?” “What is 386 divided by 4?” “Tell me a joke!” The power and access to information she has without even leaving her seat is amazing and it has improved her pronunciation immeasurably (don’t worry, we do have a pin number so the house is not full of shopping only an eight-year-old would desire). So I started using one in the classroom. It is fabulous for timers, selecting random numbers, adding names to lists, calculations, spelling, translations and playing audiobooks. For those who struggle spelling keywords in a search engine it can make finding information online much easier. As the assistants continually have updates they gather even more functionality and accuracy so limitations become fewer and the students always think of far more uses for it than I ever could.

Further information

Eleanor Overland is a senior lecturer in Computing Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is subject coordinator for the PGCE in Computing and the undergraduate BSc in Computing with Education. She also is the hub leader for the Computing At School Manchester hub and runs CPD sessions for local multi-academy trusts: Voice recognition means pupils do not have to rely on keyboards to access computers.




Crafted in care Brigid Robinson looks at the writing competition celebrating creative talents of children and young people in care


here are currently over 70,000 children and young people in care in England. Many of them feel that their voices aren’t always heard and that their achievements are not always recognised. The Voices writing competition for children in care and young care leavers, now in its third year, provides children and young people with a positive platform to showcase their creative talents, and allows us to listen to their voices and better understand their experiences. The young writers whose entries were shortlisted for this year’s competition, which is organised by Coram Voice, got together at the recent awards ceremony hosted by actor and former Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi. It was incredibly inspiring to discover these young people’s ability to transform their emotions and experiences into words of strength and hope. The young writers met the competition theme of “who or what makes you proud” in creative and powerful ways, and it was wonderful to hear of the love and support for their foster families, and others who have helped them on their journeys so far. Their entries give us important insight into their lives and experiences of care. The winners were announced by the competition judges – writers, authors, poets and journalists – many go whom have personal experience of the care system. The winning pieces are as follows: Primary School Winner – To My Sister! by Aminah, aged 11 Author Lisa Cherry and poet Dreadlock Alien, judges of the Primary School category, said: “Good poetry says the most things with the fewest words


Shortlisted finalists for the Voices writing competition, with awards' host Peter Capaldi.

and this poem does that. Great poetry prompts reactions from the listener or reader and this poem does that.” Lower Secondary School Winner – Shout it Loud, it’s Time to Find Proud by Charlotte, aged 13 Authors Jenny Molloy and Lola Jaye said: “This comes from a very talented lyricist, and matches the theme beautifully whilst exploring it in such an interesting way. The reader feels more uplifted with each verse, so much so you can almost see the stars and sparkles leaping out of the page!” Upper Secondary School Winner – Never Said Enough by Charde, aged 16 Judges Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor for Channel 4 News, and poet Mr Gee said: “A background story of real pain but ultimately the huge power of love and gratitude. The storytelling is superb – it is a wrenching, heartbreaking piece but the intensity of pride and love spoke to us with every line.” Care Leavers Winner – Let Me Just Check That With Mike by Nathan, aged 20 Singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan and reporter Ashley John-Baptiste said:

“The poem is written in a very clever way. The title of the poem used as the “punchline” of the piece is what we loved most. The writer has great capability to project their experiences onto paper.” It’s great to see the competition growing year on year so that more young people can have their stories heard. I would encourage everyone to read the moving and diverse collection of entries from this year’s competition to learn more about the experiences of these young people and to celebrate their talents.

Further information

Brigid Robinson is Managing Director of Coram Voice, a charity that works with children and young people to help them participate in shaping their own lives and hold to account the services responsible for their care: For information about Voices 2018 and to read the shortlisted and winning entries, visit:





Fostering positivity David Eggboro talks to a mother who feels her family has been enriched by fostering a child with SEN


ore than 65,000 children live with foster families in the UK each day. Each of those families provides a fostered child or group of children with a loving stable home which will help them to learn and grow and increase their chances of successfully transitioning into adulthood. Across the UK, every 20 minutes a child or young person comes into care needing a foster family. Many of them have had a very difficult start in life and for some this is compounded by having SEN. One of the greatest challenges facing this particular group with additional needs is recruiting more foster carers with the skills and experience to help positively transform their lives. The Cochranes are one family who have been caring for children with special needs. Carol and Nigel Cochrane live with their two fostered children and Carol’s mum, who suffers from dementia. The couple decided to foster after seeing a newspaper advert to foster a young girl with additional needs. Carol says: “Our daughter Jayne was an only child at home and as I read the advert she asked us to bring the girl to our house. That made us wonder if it was possible.” As it transpired, Carol and Nigel did not end up fostering the girl but the idea of becoming foster carers had been planted. Shortly after this, the couple spoke with Carol’s brother who, with his wife, had fostered many children for a number of years. It was after his recommendation that Carol and Nigel signed up with a fostering service, went through the approval process and began fostering in 2005. The eldest of the two children the Cochranes currently foster, J, came SENISSUE94

J with his foster parents the Cochranes.

Had we just listened to his medical needs, we might have made the wrong decision

facial expressions, especially his big smile. He instinctively knows how to let us understand. We had to undertake intensive training before we could take him home but we enjoyed it. It’s been the best nine years and we cannot visualise a life without him.”

Support network to live with the family aged four with a range of complex needs. He is now 14. “We thought very carefully before attending the initial meeting with J and looked up some of the conditions in advance”, Carol explains. “We immediately saw a little boy who was enjoying a lovely cuddle from a nurse. I just knew we would love and protect him and fight his corner, being a voice for everything he deserves. “Had we just listened to his medical needs, we might have made the wrong decision, as J’s condition means he relies on adults for every aspect of his life. But he’s very good at communicating with us by noises and

There have been a few worries along the way, but the family has overcome them with the strong support they have had from J’s social worker. Carol says: “She has been a consistent presence and guided us through all the ups and downs, supported us when visiting health professionals and even now, when we are faced with new situations, she is with us. Our own fostering team have also been a great support when there have been anxious times.” It’s because of this support and the friendly relationships between the team working with J, in addition to J’s resilience, that the family has been able to cope so well. “We have been faced with bleak news in the past”, WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


says Carol. “But knowing J is strong and loves his life gives us the strength to believe he will fight within himself to get better.”

With careful planning we can still enjoy a good family life

Family life A crucial part of fostering for the Cochranes is adhering to a routine. Carol explains: “With careful planning we can still enjoy a good family life. We have been abroad with J and had some lovely family days out, and he attends all family functions, which he revels in. “Our older children cope well with the time we devote to J simply because we communicate with and involve them. J is a big part of their lives, as they are in his. He very quickly made himself the most important person in the home, with us all forming a great attachment to him. Our older two children will often FaceTime J as they know how much he misses them being at home”. Fostering has had a positive effect on Carol and Nigel’s daughter Jayne and Ciaran, another child they fostered, who now attend the same university and also live in the same apartment. As with any family, there are so many memories that the Cochranes have shared. “At the beginning, we were told J was blind but after being with us for a while we thought we had seen

signs that, at times, J seemed to be able to track our movements”, Carol recalls. “We were advised to take him for tests and to receive news he can see, when not too tired, was the most precious memory we’ll have. He is now learning how to use eye gaze to control a computer. “We hope to be able to carry on as we are and to have many more years to make wonderful memories with J and our birth and foster children.” The work that the Cochranes do is replicated on a daily basis by the 55,000 other foster families across the UK – many of whom care for children with additional needs. However, thousands more foster carers are needed each year. Many children in care will require additional support, whether it is with physical or mental health, learning difficulties or communication, sensory or interaction 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 experience can be rewarding for both the child and those caring for them. One of the biggest issues within foster carer recruitment is finding suitable carers for children with SEN, but as the Cochrane’s story has illustrated, fostering a child can transform your life as well as theirs. 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, then you should consider fostering this Foster Care Fortnight. Perhaps it might be the decision which transforms your life.

Foster Care Fortnight Foster Care Fortnight is The Fostering Network's annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and to show how foster care transforms lives. It is also the UK's biggest foster carer recruitment campaign. This year, Foster Care Fortnight runs from 14 to 27 May 2018 and you can get involved by visiting: or tweet using #FCF18.

Further information David Eggboro is Media and Communications Officer at The Fostering Network: J has shown great determination to communicate with his foster family.





FOSTERING Advertisement feature

Autism and foster care: what support is available for children and families? NFA Group Fostering Division Autistic children need specialist care at every stage of their development. At NFA Group Fostering Division, we work with families who care for children with autism, offering training and support to help them provide the best environment for young people. Here, we share the stories of three such foster families, highlighting their experiences and the support available. Theresa Owen – Alpha Plus Having fostered for eight years, Theresa Owen (pictured left) has provided a safe home for several young people. Theresa currently looks after two autistic children, a brother and sister aged seven and five, and they have made remarkable progress in her care. After caring for her niece, who has special needs, from a young age, Theresa requested that she be considered as a carer for children with learning disabilities by fostering agency Alpha Plus. The two siblings were the first autistic children Theresa had cared for, and acquiring the skills to take care of them has been a challenging and rewarding experience. “It is so fulfilling to see them overcome challenges. Their smiles and delight when they do something new is amazing – it gets me emotional”, Theresa says, adding, “Alpha Plus have been amazing; you can contact them at any time on their 24-hour hotline and their team will do anything to help. I requested specialist training when I put myself forward as a carer for autistic children and they were happy to provide it.” Web: Tel: 0808 284 9211 Steven and Philippa Kingshott – Fostering Solutions Foster carers Steven and Philippa Kingshott have taken care of an autistic boy for ten years, and despite initial behavioural issues, the placement has been successful – although it hasn’t been without its challenges.

“When he first came to us, it was hard to tell whether his behaviours were due to his autism, his early life upbringing or just naughtiness”, Steven reflects; “identifying which behaviours were directed by his autism, and which were not, was an education for us.” As with all children with additional needs, training is essential in helping carers deal with day-to-day challenges. Through their agency, Fostering Solutions, Steven and Philippa have developed skills in caring for their foster child, and now feel better prepared to look after children with autism. Philippa adds: “We’ve been to several training sessions operated by Fostering Solutions, which have helped us understand certain behaviours. These have been very helpful, as some of the behaviour exhibited by young people with autism can be difficult to understand – so the support has been essential.” Web: Tel: 0800 160 1605 Bev and Michael Peck – Fostering Solutions Bev (pictured right) and Michael Peck have fostered a boy with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD for the past four years, having previously cared for other children with learning needs. Bev’s experience working in a special education school has been instrumental in providing the child in their care with a structured environment. However, the nature of his condition led the couple to seek additional training with their fostering agency, Fostering Solutions. Describing the foster child as a “bright boy who enjoys the academic side of school”, Bev says that the most challenging aspect of fostering a child with Asperger’s is understanding their behaviours. She said: “At first, he was very frustrated with everything, but has calmed down significantly. He has a routine, and strong structure in his life, and that has allowed him to develop. “Fostering Solutions have provided several training courses, including specialist courses related to autism, which has given us great insight into his behaviour. These sessions have helped us provide the right kind of support for our foster child.” We’d like to thank Theresa, Steven, Philippa, Bev and Michael for sharing their experiences of fostering a child on the autistic spectrum, and hope that their stories encourage more people to consider fostering. Web: Tel: 0800 160 1605













Engaging pupils with maths We talk to teacher Emily Burns about a problem solving approach to primary school maths


n line with her school’s curriculum, Year 4 teacher Emily Burns has been working with her students, including those with SEN to develop their love and understanding of maths. Whenever you ask students which subject they hate most, a significant majority say, “maths”. For most, this response is based on the traditional rote learning approach. At Phoenix St Peter Academy, Emily seeks to promote curiosity, investigation and exploration – providing her students with an appreciation of how the skills they learn are transferable and relevant to their lives. For most of her students with learning difficulties, this also provides an ideal opportunity to identify the best way to meet their specific needs. Take the problem-solving approach to primary maths as an example; giving students fun but challenging problems to solve is far more engaging for

Students will always be more engaged when using technology challenged students than reciting the times tables or adding up a series of numbers on a sheet. While this approach to primary maths is certainly engaging her students, and getting them to think of maths as something that exists outside of the classroom, most busy teachers will understand that sourcing the learning content and resources for these lessons can be a challenge. Across the world, education departments acknowledge that technology can have a significant impact on both the engagement and learning of their students, as

well as easing the effort that comes with sourcing materials and content. Whether it is an eBook or maths software, students will always be more engaged when using technology; it is a result of technology being related to free time and games in their home life. However, there is an inherent problem with this in that the technological systems that a lot of school systems are choosing to include in classrooms, do not match the quality of pedagogy that they expect from their teachers. There are many primary maths resources used by primary schools that do not meet the requirements of the new curriculum. If children are using technology for skill and drill purposes only, they are not getting the full range of benefits that are available to them. More importantly, these resources serve no purpose in helping students with learning difficulties. It is therefore important to ensure the resources used not only match the primary curriculum but also include features that are vital to address the difficulties many students face.

Involving learners In Emily’s class there is a child who was reluctant to get involved in the learning activities and was a regular absconder. Very few days would go by without him leaving the class and running though the corridors of the school. There are a number of reasons why this student is so resistant to learning and feels the need to “escape”, but Emily’s role is to avoid a power struggle and to redirect his attention to learning. >> WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK




So rather than ordering him to get back to the classroom, she used a variety of techniques to address the problem. One of these was to simply introduce a maths problem and ask him how he feels he could solve the problem. Because he sees this as a treat, he now takes no time getting back on task. Because of his increasing love of maths combined with the other strategies used, the number of his “escapes” has been gradually reducing.

Short and simple Having plenty of repetitive learning activities that only take a short period of time is another requirement of some of Emily’s students. Since Kanner’s 1943 classic paper on autism, educators now recognise the importance of maintaining rituals due to their insistence on sameness. It is only when some of her students are able to go through lots of repetitive activities to consolidate the learning objective that Emily starts to see clear progress. The important thing for her students is that these aren’t all exactly the same activities. These short, manageable bursts of learning are ideal for one child in particular who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In class he is quite easily distracted, so he often doesn't get all of his tasks done. At the computer however, he is engaged and responds well to the application of his knowledge. His results on these tasks are far better than expected. And as long as the tasks are all slightly different, these students are usually patient enough to let Emily set them another similar activity when they are finished. Without this kind of technology, it might take her hours to track down enough of these activities to achieve the necessary level of learning reinforcement. Again, these programmes play a great part in this by providing multiple problems that effectively consolidate the learning objective while slowly, almost imperceptibly, building in complexity. SENISSUE94

Like most Year 4 students, many in her class struggle with getting the wrong answer

Visual stimuli Being able to demonstrate a maths problem through visual graphics is an excellent way of representing the cause and effect that many of Emily’s students need to fully grasp maths lessons. Emily has found that for many of those students with SEN, the simpler the graphics and the clearer they relate to each other, the better. It is important for them to have wellstructured illustrations that are as “real” as possible. When digital video images are used on the interactive whiteboard the children can see the whole concept on the big display area and engage with the graphics, altering the cause and seeing the corresponding effect.

Don’t move on too fast One of the dangers of the mainstream primary maths curriculum is that we have to move children on to “harder” topics before they have the depth of understanding they need to grasp the more basic concepts. Students with SEN will often need more time than their classmates. To ensure that they keep up, Emily has used targeted interventions and continuously encourages parents to run through some fun exercises at home. She also runs a lunch time maths club for those who may not have access to a computer at home. Technology helps Emily to move away from rote learning and introduce reasoning. Additionally, the application of different scenarios to determine cause and effect is so ideal for the broad spectrum of abilities in her class. Schools must look at the resources available to them and evaluate whether or not they are helping each child to develop a deeper understanding of concepts or if they are just helping them say an answer faster. Children should have the opportunity to develop maths skills and not just learn new facts.

Right and wrong Another problem that Emily is using technology to solve is the fact that, like most Year 4 students, many in her class struggle with getting the wrong answer. Every pupil is unique in their response, but it certainly helps if the problem set carefully leads them through learning steps toward the right answer. The approach to posing questions needs to be carefully considered, as well. For example, a lot of emphasis for the teaching of maths is on a very “right” or “wrong” basis, but opting for a problem-solving approach to primary maths avoids this outcome; instead they are simply invited to try a different method to solve the problem. This is such an important part of their development and motivation – especially for students with SEN. This approach emphasises that there is no such thing as failure.

Further information

Emily Burns is a Year 4 teacher at Phoenix St Peter Academy primary school in Lowestoft, part of the REAch2 Academy Trust: The Academy uses Matific primary maths software:



National Numeracy Day The charity National Numeracy has announced its first National Numeracy Day. Taking place on 16 May 2018, the Day will be a celebration of the importance of numbers in everyday life and will seek to bring together individuals, employers, educators and influencers to improve numeracy. National Numeracy Day has been created to drive a change in recognition of the importance of numbers for everyone’s lives. It will help individuals to check their numeracy levels, starting with a quick online numeracy quiz and provide free tools to support improvement amongst those who could benefit. Professional services company KPMG is the founding supporter of the Day and organisations including Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Experian, Health Education England, NS&I, RBS, the Scottish Government, Education Scotland, Ufi Charitable Trust and Virgin Money are official supporters of the event. For more information, visit:






Interactive assessment Talat Khan looks at the role of dynamic assessment in identifying and supporting dyslexia


ynamic assessment is an interactive method of assessment that is used within education to test for language-based skills, and considers the learning potential of a child. It involves the teacher or assessor (normally an educational psychologist or specialist teacher) measuring the effect of an intervention or lesson on a learner’s performance. The idea behind dynamic assessment is to support the learner to acquire the skills and knowledge being tested after being exposed to instruction. Alternative assessments such as dynamic assessment can offer less bias than norm-referenced standardised assessments. This is especially true for individuals who come from a deprived socio-economic background, as well as those with SEN, or who are from racially diverse backgrounds and who are English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) learners. SENISSUE94

The usual way to identify if an individual has a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, would be to carry out standardised testing. This involves a variety of assessments which are specific to analysing the child’s phonological ability, single word reading and spelling. These tests would also look at their cognitive abilities, speed of processing information and working memory skills. The results of the specific assessments (along with observational information from parents and teachers) then provide evidence that is used to determine whether or not the child or young person has dyslexia. To measure reading accuracy, for example, you can use a test that looks at the word reading processes of the individual, to identify reading difficulties connected to written word recognition. Another standardised assessment used to test for reading comprehension skills measures the decoding (reading accuracy), fluency

The type of assessments we use will have a direct impact on the interventions that are applied (reading rate) and comprehension of text (literal and inferential meaning) skills of the learner. These types of tests are administered on a one-to-one basis and are instruction lead. The assessor does not play an interactive role in the administration of the tests. In a dynamic assessment such as fast word mapping, you may introduce non-words for real objects to evaluate whether a child can learn new words, for example by substituting “gawa” for “lychee”, that no learner has more or less experience with, and therefore there is less chance of bias because of socio-economic differences. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK


Some key differences between standardised and dynamic assessments Static/standardised assessment

Dynamic assessment

Passive learner.

Active learner.

Assessor observes.

Assessor participates.

Identifies areas of weakness.

Describes changes in learning.


Fluid and open to response.

What is especially helpful with young learners is the interactive role the assessor plays in dynamic assessments and we can gather a much greater range of information about a child’s skills, rather than simply finding out whether the learner can identify the “lychee” or not.

reporting the results of assessments to show areas of strength and deficit in a positive manner. At the end of the day, the assessor, teachers and parents should all be considering how the child will benefit from the information gained through the assessment process.

The case for dynamic assessment

The assessor is involved in the process, rather than just giving out instructions and observing the child

There is an argument that suggests that dynamic assessment is far more useful in obtaining information regarding a child’s acquired skills and learning potential than standardised assessment. This is because dynamic assessments are focussed on the process of learning and what an individual learner brings to the assessment, including what they can achieve through the assessment process. Moreover, the assessor is involved in the process, rather than just giving out instructions and observing the child whilst they complete a range of tests. Looking at the above characteristics of both types of assessments, and bearing in mind the wide variety of backgrounds children in the UK come from, it is important that our assessment criteria address both the identification of reading difficulties and learning needs of an individual in a manner that will allow the best possible outcomes for that child. Assessing a child for literacy difficulties or a developmental language disorder can be a difficult task; the assessor needs to think carefully about the type of assessments that will be used, as well as accurately WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Improving outcomes Perhaps the most important reason that a child is assessed for a learning difficulty such as dyslexia is to help them receive the support they require to achieve the best possible learning outcomes. In addition, assessments help the child, and those who support them, by enabling them to gain a better understanding of their individual way of learning and their learning potential. The type of assessments we use will have a direct impact on the interventions that are applied to support a child’s learning. So it is crucial that we use the right method of assessment, whether that be static or dynamic. The assessment procedure should allow the assessor to feel confident they have provided the child with an opportunity to express the learning skills that they have acquired (with and without prompting), as well as

distinguish if there is an area of concern, such as a potential learning difficulty. From a specialist teacher’s perspective who can assess for literacy difficulties such as dyslexia, both methods of assessment have a place in our education system. I feel that standardised testing should continue to be used to identify specific concerns related to identifying learning difficulties and for the recommendation of “next steps” to support a child’s education. However, there is also a place for dynamic assessment, especially where we are not sure if a child has a developmental language disorder or a literacy difficulty or a language difference because of their cultural and/ or linguistic background. We should also consider children who come from a disadvantaged socio-economic background who may have a language difference due to a lack of exposure to a vocabulary-rich environment, rather than a language impairment. In this case, dynamic assessments could prove more useful than static ones in the identification of a learning need. Here, the assessor can play an active role in identifying the barriers a child is facing in their learning and can apply an appropriate strategy through informed teaching and specific intervention work. This can help to support the learner to manage their difficulties. Dynamic assessment allows for a combination of intervention and assessment to offer direct support to the learner and it can be a useful addition to an assessor’s toolkit.

Further information A former teacher and deputy head, Talat Khan is an SEN and disabilities consultant:





Frewen College students in films about dyslexia Students at Frewen College, a school for dyslexic children in Northiam, East Sussex, have featured in a series of short information films about how dyslexic children learn and best teaching practice for dyslexic students. The College was asked to take part by the film’s organisers the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and Patoss, the Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties. The six short films will be used by the BDA as a training resource to support and encourage other teachers wishing to teach students in a more dyslexia-friendly style. Each of the videos focuses on a different aspect of teaching and learning at the school, such as the use of multi-sensory teaching methods and appropriate use of specific IT. The videos can be viewed on the College’s website:





Book reviews by Mary Mountstephen

Understanding Maths Learning Difficulties: Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or Dyspraxia?

Mastering Primary Physical Education

J. Hornigold

K. Howells with A. Carney, N. Castle and R. Little

McGraw-Hill: Open University Press £27.99 ISBN: 978-0-3352-6244-1

Bloomsbury Academic £19.99 ISBN: 978-1-4742-9687-8

Judy Hornigold is a well-known

This publication draws on the experience of four leading practitioners in the field of primary physical education, currently working in the School of Childhood at Canterbury Christ Church University. Howells sets out to provide support and guidance for practitioners working in the early years and primary sectors and covers a range of topics including: the concept of physical literacy and the contribution it makes to a child’s whole education; developing curiosity and physical development; how physical development benefits children’s learning; movement observation skills and example lesson skills; and planning for risk and challenge This book is a useful guide for the classroom teacher and, although it does not reference differentiation for learning differences (apart from gifted and talented), it covers some useful basic concepts and opportunities for reflecting on current practice. The authors cover locomotion, stability and manipulation skills and highlight the significance of developing the basic, fundamental abilities as a foundation for more complex skills that underpin classroom performance. The reader is asked to consider undertaking an audit of current physical education provision and resources and to be creative in delivering quality learning experiences, regardless of the equipment available. The book includes photographs to illustrate key points and examples of observation templates that cover preparation, action and recovery phases. One example details an observation of six children executing a log roll, with specific observable criteria.

and respected independent consultant specialising in dyscalculia and dyslexia. She has presented at many international conferences and is known for her accessible and practical style in addressing issues associated with maths. In this book, she provides an overview of some of the potential causes of maths learning difficulties and how anxiety about coping with this subject can affect the ways in which students cope with barriers to progress. She clarifies whether the underlying issues are related to fundamental difficulties such as dyscalculia or are located in a more generalised anxiety about coping with maths. Hornigold also looks at four specific areas: core number, reasoning, memory and visual spatial awareness. She then links these to dyscalculia, dyslexia and dyspraxia. The book also looks at practical applications of the strategies discussed, using examples to illustrate the main points. Hornigold identifies the use of skills such as visualisation, using imagery and overlearning; she stresses that recall can be reinforced through recognising the limitations of working memory by making the learning process more manageable for students. This is supplemented by easy to implement strategies such as learning to write out a times table square. This is a useful introductory text that would be of interest to teachers looking for ideas to support pupils struggling with maths.




Neuroscience for Teachers: Applying Research Evidence from Brain Science R. Churches, E. Dommett and I. Devonshire Crown House Publishing Limited £18.99 ISBN: 978-1-7858-3183-6 This book opens with a foreword by Susan Greenfield, an eminent neurobiologist, writer and broadcaster, who praises the authors for producing a text that provides accessible and accurate information for teachers about the brain and what research evidence has to say in terms of effective classroom interventions. The book covers topics such as: principles and practice of neuroscience in the classroom; attention learning and memory; emotions and learning; SEN including dyslexia and autism; and the adolescent brain and peer pressure. The book is well structured, as each chapter opens with an overview of content and concludes with suggestions for further related reading and research. There are numerous cartoons that help to explain concepts relating to neuroscience research, and puzzles to reinforce learning concepts. The authors provide useful examples of ways in which teachers can improve classroom practice through stimulating experiences that recognise the relationship between the brain, behaviour and learning. They stress the significant impact teachers can exert on their students’ thinking, for example, when they have a greater understanding of brain function and classroom performance in relation to learning differences and interventions. This book provides teachers with much advice and support in terms of adapting and refining their classroom practice, based on sound academic and evidence-based reviews.


Developing Empathy in the Early Years: A Guide for Practitioners H. Garnett Jessica Kingsley Publishers £15.99 ISBN: 978-1-78592-143-8

The author is an experienced teacher who has run her own pre-school and now works as an educational consultant in the UK. She has developed a particular interest in early intervention and the positive effect this has on child development and progress. In this publication, she has collaborated with other specialists in the field, who provide additional chapters. The book opens by introducing the concept of empathy and chapters cover topics such as: empathy and theory of mind; empathy and autism, emotional intelligence and empathy; and the significance of pretend play. The author looks at the importance of the development of social skills and the child’s ability to process social information, interact with others and form healthy relationships. Research indicates that strong social cognition develops from a very early age and that early years practitioners can support the ways in which children can practice managing, adjusting and regulating their emotions. Garnett provides a useful introduction to misconceptions about autism and links this to advice on building communication and the management of the physical environment to maximise the child’s daily interactions with other children and with practitioners. The book closes with a summary of the long-term significance of the early development of empathy within a culture of acceptance, understanding and tolerance, particularly in relation to “troubled pre-schoolers” and others at risk of social exclusion.






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Special feature


82 Positive about autism Helping children on the autistic spectrum to feel good about themselves 88

What works for me? Involving young people with autism in decision making


The Autism Show A look ahead to June’s autism events in London, Birmingham and Manchester





Positive about autism Debby Elley looks at how we can help children with autism to feel good about themselves


y twins were diagnosed with autism on the same day in November 2006. By the time the autism assessment test (ADOS) had come around, we were pretty much expecting the outcome to confirm that they were both on the spectrum. There had been pointed hints in this direction for about a year and although no-one wanted to nail their colours to the mast, phrases like “speech delay” and “social communication impairments” had us prepared for the inevitable. We were expecting it, but I still felt miserable after the news was broken to us in a quiet and tactful way. The twins – cute, bubbly and interactive – were each given a score and it felt like they


It took me many years to come to the conclusion that autism isn’t a disaster but a difference had failed the test for “normal”. The new label temporarily destroyed my happiness. Worry over the unfamiliar was mixed with a lack of clarity over how impaired they would be and what it meant for their future. I can’t recall the follow-up meeting, only that it involved arranging a series of referrals. The thing is, I can’t remember anything positive about the experience,

but then how many parents do feel good in those months post-diagnosis?

Too much negativity My twins Bobby and Alec are now 14 and are as charming as ever (although with a giant dash of teenage stroppiness). It took me many years to come to the conclusion that autism isn’t a disaster but a difference. The question I’m pondering is: is it really inevitable that this should take years? An autism diagnosis is by no means insignificant and can’t exactly be laughed away, but should it really make parents feel so downcast? There are several problems with feeling miserable after a diagnosis. The



first is that it stops you from “hitting the ground running” with any intervention, as instead you’re going through a period of mourning. The second is that it robs you of any sense of power in your own parenting. The third is that it leads you to consider your children are somehow lacking or lesser beings. As well as affecting you, this emotional response in parents transfers to their children. Longer term, there is too much at stake for this issue not to be addressed. How parents first understand and process the news that their child has autism can colour their entire approach towards parenting, including their thought processes when things go wrong. This in turn will affect how they cope. Whether you perceive autistic difficulties as “impairments” (the child is a faulty version of a non-autistic one) or the result of different neurological wiring will have a huge impact on your state of mind. In short, how are our kids going to grow up feeling positive about their autism if a parent’s original response to news of their condition was shock and depression? What makes me smile (in a cynical way) is that there are now several good books on the market dedicated to telling your child about their autism. The authors have had to write these to meet demand. Why? It’s because parents fear that in telling their child about their autism, they will transfer their own emotions from that rather traumatic post-assessment time. It requires a self-help book to unpick that negative thinking and knit it into a more positive approach. That’s right, we have to undo any notion of the sense of “faulty” or “wrong” for the sake of our kids, when the same courtesy wasn’t afforded to us as parents.

Autism is ever changing So, what should professionals be telling parents in those delicate early days? Well, there are some key things that I learnt about autism that I think would have helped me to come to terms with it a lot more easily. WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

Autism is a life-long condition. However, that phrase gives the impression that autism is like a solid brick, which stays the same over time. In reality, autism changes and is mouldable. Although the autism itself may never disappear, the core difficulties associated with it can greatly reduce with intervention, maturity and time. Of course, practitioners may suppose that to over-promise will raise expectations, only for them to be dashed. Yet wherever you sit on the spectrum, things do change. My twins have greatly varying communication abilities, but both of them have made dramatic improvements. In fact, I don’t know a child who hasn’t. To be positive isn’t to promise the world, but we need to get across the message that although these difficulties are very real, they can be reduced and they are simply a logical response to a different interpretation of the world. It isn’t that professionals try to be misleading. Rather, in the absence of information like this, parents reach their own rather despairing conclusions. Every aspect of the spectrum – communication, social interaction, rigidity of thought and sensory difficulties – can be heavily influenced by our understanding of the difficulties that underpin them and by intervening with simple strategies. Even rigidity of thought – something that I thought we were stuck with – can bend if you apply the right strategies. No-one told me. I learnt that the hard way. Plus, we know that anxiety is linked to many of the difficulties experienced in autism. If a parent isn’t anxious about their child being autistic, they won’t transfer that emotion onto the little one, and kids then stand a better chance of building resilience and confidence in who they are.

Valuable qualities And what of autistic strengths? Is it really fair to present autism as “impairments” right from the start, when autistic thinking can be so useful for society? Not everyone with autism is a “savant”

Even rigidity of thought can bend if you apply the right strategies

or genius nor should we pretend they are. But those with autism, once they love something, become specialists in it. This focus and attention to detail can lead to immense achievements. There’s the logic, systemising, creativity, recall, honesty and tenacity – and the list goes on. Must we put such weight on social “impairments” when there is so much more to autism than that? Autism doesn’t necessarily equal lack of ability or intelligence. Parents should know this from the start. It’s quite simple, really. All I ask is that they are shown both sides of the same coin, rather than feeling that their precious currency has suddenly been devalued.

Further information

Debby Elley is the Co-Editor of AuKids Magazine. Her new book 15 Things They Forgot to Tell You About Autism is published by Jessica Kingsley:















AUTISM Advertisement feature

Accept me for who I am: enabling young autistic people to be valued members of their community By Seashell Trust’s Joe Booker and Emma Houldcroft Meaningful employment is good for our health and wellbeing, giving us a sense of pride, identity, and personal achievement (DWP). Only 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time employment, with only 32 per cent in any type of paid employment (NAS, 2016). These figures do not include those with additional learning disabilities. This lack of engagement with their community may be a contributory factor to autistic people being far more prone to anxiety and depression (NAS, 2017). Autistic people, in general, have a number of qualities that might be very desirable to a business. An eye for detail, the desire to adhere to workplace rules, or a preference and aptitude for repetitive tasks. Often they are able to offer a new and fresh perspective to a situation. At Seashell Trust, we believe that everybody should have the opportunity to work, regardless of their disability. Young people attending our school follow a curriculum that has been specifically designed around their individual needs, allowing people to work to their strengths whilst exploring and developing new skills. A functional curriculum is built around the learner from primary age, promoting independence and enabling children to reach their full potential. It is important to consider a young person’s destination at every level of their learning so that opportunities can be developed beyond school-life. Students choose from a variety of vocational opportunities from Year 10 onwards, and their enjoyment and successes are monitored and recorded. This then informs Vocational Preference sessions, leading in turn to further work experience opportunities. Our aim is for students to feel valued, gain a sense of achievement, and form an opinion about what work they enjoy, through real life learning. Preparing for employment Employment remains the focus at college. Typically, the first two years of a three year programme are dedicated to building the interpersonal skills required to work. People learn how to comfortably share space with others, develop forms of expressive and receptive communication, recognise and manage their anxiety, and cope with changes. In their third year, some people join the work-focussed internship programme and undertake work-placements. We work with over 40 local companies, offering bespoke training and support in order to ensure that the experience is as positive as possible for all involved. A number of these positions translate to full or parttime employment opportunities upon transition from college. Robyn spent the first two years of her education at Seashell focussing on developing her communication skills, building social skills, and defining herself as an adult. She participated WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

in a variety of regular work-placements and was able to make a decision about those which she wished to continue into her third year. Upon joining the internship programme, she worked in places as diverse as offices, gardens, and canteens, deciding upon and expressing her preferences. Robyn now works in a number of part-time paid and voluntary roles, including Hobbycraft. Jayne Devlin is the Team Leader at Hobbycraft and works alongside Robyn. She says that Robyn has brought a lot to the role. “You can ask Robyn to do anything. She takes her time and makes sure that everything is in the right place. She’s always so happy and just makes you smile”. Jayne also told us about how much Robyn’s confidence had developed since starting in the post. “She is much more outgoing than she was when she started and enjoys chatting to the customers and her colleagues”. Seashell Trust provide a wide range of specialist outreach services to schools, colleges and other settings with a focus on the positive inclusion of children and young people with SEND. Joe and Emma will be sharing their knowledge, skills and expertise in supporting autistic young people towards employment at the Autism Show, Manchester, in June.





What works for me? Beverley Tyrrell and Kevin Woods look at how to involve young people on the autistic spectrum in decision making


upils with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) may have more difficulty than their peers in understanding decisions that are made about them and may find it harder to express their views in ways the adults around them can understand. We know though, that children and young people who take part in making decisions that affect them tend to be more motivated and have higher self-esteem. How best then can we support pupils with autism to make their opinions known and allow them to have the same rights afforded to others? Outlined in this article are two methods we have developed to support pupils with moderate or high functioning ASC to take part in the decision making process. To do this, we looked at research involving pupils with ASC, and also drew upon our own experience of working with these

A pupil could be asked to draw the classroom they think they would learn the most in pupils. Both methods are designed to play to the strengths of individuals with ASC and can be used for a variety of decisions, at home and at school.

Drawing This idea is based on a method developed by Heather Moran, which asks individuals to draw their “ideal self”. The method we propose suggests that pupils are asked to draw their ideal and worst scenarios, often for a particular outcome. For example, a pupil being involved in a decision

about their secondary provision could be asked to draw the classroom they think they would learn the most in (or that they would feel happiest in), and the one they would feel least comfortable in. This approach allows the flexibility for the pupil to generate their own ideas, including those that the adults around them might never have thought of. It may be, for example, that sitting at the back of the classroom is very important to the pupil, but without asking in this way the adults around them would never have found this out. We have found that pupils with ASC are generally able to understand that whilst we do our best to provide whatever aspects of their “dream scenario” we can, we may not be able to provide everything they asked for. Similarly, asking students to draw their “ideal self”, and the opposite, can also help in revealing what is

Children can reveal their preferences by drawing favourable and unfavourable scenarios.




This was a useful access arrangement that the adults around her were unlikely to have considered

Amy’s drawing shows her being distracted by the other pupils around her.

important to them, and directing which interventions they access. If the pupil would like to be better at football for example, perhaps interventions which focus on the skills needed to play football (social skills, coordination, fitness), could be incorporated with this in mind.

Card sorting To help structure a pupil’s ideas, or to provide ideas for pupils who have trouble generating their own, card sorting can be another useful intervention. Cards can easily be made which depict different options. Instead of just asking a pupil which targets they would like to set for the next academic year, a card sort can be used. For example, the pupil could sort activities (such as writing, making friends, maths, sports) into “easy for me” and “difficult for me” columns. They could then be asked to select which activities they would like to get better at, and interventions could be tailored accordingly.

Interventions in action We tested these methods for eliciting pupils’ views when involving Year 7 pupils with ASC in decisions about their examination access arrangements – the adaptations made to the way a pupil with SEN, a disability or a temporary injury takes an exam to ensure they have as fair a chance to access the exam as other pupils. These may include arrangements like having an WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

adult read the exam to them, the use of a laptop, speech-to-text technology, extra time, rest breaks and many others. Pupils are not usually involved in deciding which access arrangements they receive. Amy was one such pupil involved in our research. Amy drew a picture of herself being “unsuccessful” and a picture of herself being “successful” in a test situation. Whilst drawing, she described herself being distracted when having other pupils near her. Her “successful” drawing depicts her with her back to the clock and she explained that being able to see the time increased her anxiety. This was a good example of an adaptation that could be made for Amy which those supporting her may not have thought of. Amy was then asked to sort cards depicting various possible access arrangements into the columns “would help me”, “might help me”, and “would not help me”. By doing this, Amy was able to ask for other access arrangements she would like, such as rest breaks and a separate room to sit her exams in. She also asked for an enlarged paper for her maths exam, so she would not have to worry about running out of space; this again was a useful access arrangement that the adults around her were unlikely to have considered. All pupils involved in this research successfully gave their opinion about which access arrangements they would like, and all pupils showed evidence of increased self-esteem as a result of being asked their opinions. As one of the members of staff involved said, “the impact on them has made them feel… unique individual, their voices being

heard”. When asked why pupils with ASC should be involved in decisions made about them, Amy replied, “despite what people say, people with autism and Asperger’s are actually quite smart people”. After the exams, all pupils were also able to reflect on the usefulness of the provision they had received.

Potential problems of this approach What if we can’t give them what they ask for? In our research, we made it clear to pupils right at the start that they may not get every access arrangement they requested. All pupils accepted and understood this and were able to discuss what a suitable practical alternative might be. Amy agreed, for example, that whilst a separate room could not be provided, it would help her to sit at the front of the room, so she was less distracted by others. Will this work with pupils with learning difficulties and autism? We tested these methods with pupils of a range of academic abilities. All pupils were able to access them, even those attaining well below the expected level for their age. Only one adaptation was needed in our research for one pupil who did not like drawing. In this case, the researcher drew whilst they described what to draw.

Further information

Beverley Tyrrell is a trainee educational psychologist at the University of Manchester. Kevin Woods is the programme director of the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology, and the research coordinator for the Manchester Institute of Education, at the University of Manchester:




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THE AUTISM SHOW Advertisement feature

Only seven weeks to go until The Autism Show 2018 This year's Autism Show, the national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), is returning to London, Birmingham and Manchester in just seven weeks' time. It's packed with over 100 hours of specialist talks, workshops and clinics, plus 100s of products and services. You can hear the UKs' leading autism professionals discussing the latest news and research in The Autism Matters Theatre in partnership with The National Autistic Society. Speakers include Nigel Thompson (Care Quality Commission) who will be discussing the CQC review of mental health services for children and young people; Lorraine Petersen (former nasen Chief Executive) on best practice for inclusion of autistic pupils; Dr Olga Bogdashina (International Autism Institute), who will be exploring how sensory difficulties can impact on behaviour; and Freddy Adu, Headteacher at Queensmill School, talking on recognising the signs of stress and anxiety in autistic students and strategies to help. Other topics include: challenging behaviour; communicating with autistic people who find language difficult; meeting the needs of pupils with autism in mainstream schools; social skills; and transition into primary and from primary to secondary school. We are also excited that Lauri Love, computer scientist and political activist, who has Asperger syndrome and earlier this year won his High Court appeal against extradition to the US for alleged computer hacking, will be speaking in London. Actor, singer and autism advocate, Travis Smith, who plays Mark in the BBC's The A Word, will be speaking at all three venues, and will be alongside actress Lucy Gaskell, who plays his on-screen mum, in London and Manchester. Everything autism In The Hub you can hear practical talks which can make an immediate difference to those you care for, support or teach. In Theatre 2, presentations include: Trauma, Autism and Resilience; Preparing Young People with ASD for Work; Challenging Behaviours, Sensory Processing and Sleep Disorders; How to Find the Right School...Then Secure a Place; Navigating the SEN Maze; and Onset Mental Health Challenges in Adolescence.

Theatre 1 in The Hub, in partnership with PARC, offers visitors a different perspective on key issues, with autistic adults speaking on subjects including: Supporting Autistic Children and Young People with Transitions; Women with Asperger's and Chronic Illness; Mentoring Autistic People; Hidden Hardships, Quirks and Mental Health; and Pushing Yourself and Succeeding to Your Best Potential. Parents and carers who are looking for free professional advice can visit the one-to-one clinics where they can receive a 30 minute personal consultation. The EHCP Help Centre at The Autism Show can help with issues you have about education, health and care plans. In London, you can visit the Autism Football feature, in association with Arsenal, Tottenham, Watford and West Ham. Learn how football can help build confidence and social interaction in autistic children and adults. On Saturday, autistic visitors can practice their football skills and receive coaching from some of the Premier League’s leading clubs. Meanwhile, new to Birmingham and Manchester, we are working with the Birmingham Centre for Arts Therapies (BCAT) to deliver arts therapy workshops. Visitors who are looking to source innovative sensory products 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. Autism Meets is a place where anybody can speak with autistic adults, or visit The JumpingCLAY Workshops to discover a sensory hands-on learning tool or take part in a free guided craft session. Visitors can also explore the exhibition to 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, 15 to 16 June NEC Birmingham, 22 to 23 June EventCity Manchester, 29 to 30 June




THE AUTISM SHOW Advertisement feature

Leading professionals share important research and innovative approaches at the Autism Show Clinical Staff from Options Autism, a division of Outcomes First Group, leader in the provision of education and care for children and adults with autism, complex and social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH), will be presenting expert seminars at the Autism Show at London Excel (15 to 16 June) and the Birmingham NEC (22 to 23 June). Options Autism, a division of Outcomes First Group, provides education and care to young people and adults with autism, complex needs and learning difficulties. Its multidisciplinary care, education and therapeutic teams work together to develop a shared understanding and to maximise quality of life. The seminars offer an exciting opportunity for visitors to find out about ground-breaking research, reflect on different interventions and learn about best practice. Autism Specific Emotional Regulation Strategies – Joined up Approaches A “must see” for visitors to the Autism Show at London Excel is the Options Autism seminar at 11.35am on Friday 15 June in Hub Theatre 2 where Dr Nicky Greaves, Clinical Psychologist at Hillingdon Manor School, will be addressing the issues of: “Autism Specific Emotional Regulation Strategies – Joined up Approaches”. Nicky's particular interests lie in adapting talk based therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) so they are more meaningful for young people with autism. She will show visitors how to create evidence-based interventions, devise strategies which reflect the young person’s point of view and their interests and ways of working with therapists, staff and parents to produce a joined up response. She has wide and varied experience having worked for the NHS and in New York City, both with adults with learning difficulties in a secure setting and those moving into supported community residences. She has worked in the field of autism spectrum for nearly 15 years, assessing and diagnosing children referred for suspected ASC. “The talk will be very practical, looking at thinking styles associated with ASC that I have observed through my work”, says Nicky. “It will look at how these may impact and create difficulties in terms of emotional regulation. I will use case studies to illustrate some interventions which are in line with evidenceWWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

based practice, give examples of practical ideas and strategies that I have developed and used over the years.” An evidence based approach to integrating Quality of Life Outcomes in Person Centred Planning Dr Andrew McAnespie is Clinical Lead and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Options Barton in Humberside, where he is currently supporting clinical developments around positive behavioural support (PBS), attachment and trauma. The school based in Barton-uponHumber provides education and care to children with autism and associated complex needs. His session, entitled “An evidence based approach to integrating Quality of Life Outcomes in Person Centred Planning” will run at 11.35am on Friday 22 June at Birmingham NEC in Hub Theatre 2. He will be sharing fascinating research on measuring the quality of life. Until now, there has been no reliable way of identifying, measuring and evaluating quality of life for young people with autism but the University of Oviedo and Institute of Community Integration in Spain has developed and validated The Kids’ Life Scale, an instrument devised especially for children and adolescents with an intellectual disability. Andrew McAnespie is adapting this for the young people at Barton. Dr Nicky Greaves and Dr Andrew McAnespie both work for Options Autism, part of Outcomes First Group. The group provides education and therapeutic care for children and adults with autism, complex and social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) and works with over 100 different local authorities in England. 98 per cent of its services are rated “Good”, “Outstanding” or “Fully Compliant” with the respective registering body, compared to a national average of around 80 per cent. Options will be exhibiting on stand number B10 at London Excel and B14 at Birmingham NEC.








FROM ISOLATION TO INTEGRATION With schools across London and Essex, TCES Group provide specialist education for pupils aged 7-19 with an autism spectrum condition or Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs. What makes TCES Group really stand out is our highly successful inclusive approach to the integration of pupils with autism into our school communities. This unique approach ensures that pupils with autism have access to the same school community and group learning experiences available to pupils in mainstream schools. In each of our schools we strive to create a self-aware and warm atmosphere, based around a strong set of community values, where pupils with autism can feel safe and secure. At the core of this is our belief that the key to increasing self-esteem and success lies within our pupils themselves. Pupils and parents alike are empowered to fully participate in the running of our schools and are encouraged to maintain involvement and full engagement in every aspect of school life. Weekly assemblies are co-facilitated by our Student Councils, who are empowered to take full ownership of setting a positive school culture. On a twice-weekly basis, TCES Group pupils debate, learn and listen to one another during a therapeutic ‘group process’ session. During these sessions autistic and SEMH pupils sit side by side in the school hall, both pupil groups showing respect for one another and fully participating. These sessions have expanded since their conception in 2014, progressing from Student Council to small tutor groups to what is now a whole school group process. Local Authority Officers have described this whole school group approach as ‘unique’ and a ‘model of excellence.’

To find out more please contact our referrals team on: 0845 872 5460 / 020 8543 7878 @tcesgroup




TRANSITION Advertisement feature

Transitions – planning and support Transition or change is an essential part of any person’s life; past experiences of this, both positive and negative will have a significant impact on how a young person may approach future transitional events. Key transitions are most likely to entail moving from one setting to another. That could be from nursery to primary school, from primary to secondary school, from a local authority special school to an independent special school, from school to college or from school or college to adult services. These and any other fundamental changes of provision are all transitions that will at some point be required in a child or young person’s life. Each transition stage can bring further feelings of confusion and dislocation from their prior experiences; young people in care settings may have multiple transitions in their life so it is imperative there is a child-centred approach that includes reviewing the young person’s previous experiences of change so they are enabled and supported as much as possible with the right skills to make positive transitions through childhood to adolescence and into adulthood. Transition can be a time of excitement and celebration but it can also be one of worry and challenge. This time can be difficult for all involved and may impact both positively and negatively on future life choices and experiences. Young people in residential care settings, in particular, can find these transitions highly significant in terms of their life experience, self-worth and esteem. Poorly planned or implemented transitions can raise anxiety, create feelings of exclusion or being marginalised and risk much poorer outcomes for that young person in the future. As a young person grows, develops and their needs change, transitions are inevitable. A change in anyone’s life can be stressful. When that person also has complex needs and receives support from social care, education and health services, it becomes a time of complex planning, exploration and agreeing future directions and pathways. Experienced providers like Hesley Group recognise the importance of proper transition planning and practise. Within Hesley Group, we support transitions throughout people’s changing lives, whether that be moving into our children’s homes, accessing our schools or moving on at various ages to new provider settings, or going home to their families or moving into their new home as an adult. We are committed to ensuring each transition is positive for all involved. Feedback and involvement from families, friends and WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK

other stakeholders is valuable during this time and whilst we support and care for the young person. We identify from assessments the indicative outcomes desired for a young person about to undergo a transition. We plan how we can best support that young person to achieve that and then work together to develop the required skills and confidence. What works for one young person may not work for another because of their developmental maturity and needs; every plan must be person-centred and tailored to meet that individual’s specific needs. At Hesley Group we can see positive outcomes from transitions in many different ways, such as: • young people joining our schools and re-engaging with their learning • young people coming to our specialist services and seeing their need for high levels of support reduce over time • young people accessing work experience/placements during school to equip them with vital life skills • young adults expressing excitement and positive ideas about meeting their adult services social worker and starting to really form their future plans • young adults leaving our schools to live in adult accommodation, attending college or vocational programmes. Transitions can be challenging and raise negative feelings about past experiences of change but, with the right transitional planning and support, young people with complex needs can learn, develop and achieve. If you would like to find out more about the services offered by Hesley Group, please visit: or call: 0800 055 6789. SENISSUE94




Stand out candidates Hannah McDaid examines what special schools are looking for in teaching staff


very special school is unique and staffing demands can differ greatly from setting to setting, often involving some very specific requirements. It can be very challenging from a school’s point of view to bring someone new into their midst. A common worry when introducing a new face into the classroom is how the children will react to them. This can be a particular concern for those supporting pupils on the autistic spectrum who tend to favour familiarity and consistency. It is very important that the new teacher going into the classroom is fully prepared. They should always have a “can do” attitude and show great willingness to support all children at all levels. They must also make themselves familiar with the school’s behaviour policies. In addition to this, teachers should be aware of issues and goals in children’s individual education plans or education, health and care plans. There are few things worse from the school’s perspective than a teacher or teaching assistant (TA) triggering a child’s behavioural issues because they were unaware of their specific needs. If this information is not given to them on day one, the new staff member or candidate should ask plenty of questions.

Schools tend to give great feedback to the staff who engage and get really involved with the pupils Many special schools prefer to have the reassurance and confidence they get from knowing that a new member of staff has previously worked within an SEN setting. New staff can prove to be more of a hindrance than a help to the school if they need a lot of guidance and support on issues that are fundamental to the nature of the setting.

Positive attributes Schools tend to give great feedback to the staff who engage and get really involved with the pupils and the role. Those who use their own initiative, lead the class, and communicate with children at all levels and abilities will always impress. Working in a special school can be very different to working in mainstream. Although lesson structures will be in place, there can be occasions when an incident might occur that will disrupt the whole lesson and the rest of the class. Having a member of staff who

has a calm approach in these instances, and will adapt to the situation whilst remaining professional, is something that schools relish. Obviously, the first contact a school or an agency might have with a TA or teacher is when they receive their CV. Schools will be looking for something that catches their eye, so it’s important for candidates to stress anything positive that makes them stand out from the crowd. A CV is effectively a selling tool, so sell yourself! However, CVs should not be misleading. I once encountered a candidate who stated that they had experience of using hoists. Obviously this could be very attractive to a school that has pupils who require this kind of support. However, when put to the test, it turned out that this candidate did not have the skill they said they did. The ideal candidate for a special school needs to demonstrate a real desire to want to work in this kind of setting, as it is not for everyone. Schools need to know that staff are comfortable working in what can be a challenging environment, and a candidate’s ability to interact well with pupils is one of the most important things they look for. Be honest about your experience and have confidence in your own ability. Most importantly, though, be yourself, as personality is key.

Further information

Hannah McDaid is Director of the Merseyside branch of Connex Education, which specialises in the recruitment of supply teachers, TAs, SEN and nursery staff: Special school teachers should relate well to pupils with a wide range of needs and abilities.







CPD, training and events Keep up to date with the latest developments in special educational needs, with SEN Magazine's essential guide to the best courses, workshops, conferences and exhibitions We take every care when compiling the information on the following pages. However, details may change, and we recommend that you contact the event organisers before you make arrangements to attend.

CPD, 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 ‘Eddy Anderson model’ accredited and approved training courses. Founded 1972

01342 870543

Enrol to suit CACHE Level 3 Qualification: Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech, Language and Communication via The Communication Trust’s Platform 3 Up to 10 credits; Achieve within 4 months. £450.

Training from National Deaf Children’s Society

Training: 12 weekend days over two terms Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health-Informed Schools (Practitioner Status) The Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education

020 7704 2534

New Skills Academy New Skills Academy pride themselves on providing the best online education courses to further your career. Their experienced tutors have meticulously created some incredibly well received diplomas. Their diverse portfolio includes courses in the following areas: Autism Awareness Diploma; ADHD Diploma; Asperger Syndrome Awareness Diploma.

MsC Speech and Language Sciences MSc

Anglia Ruskin University

University College London

ARU offers an innovative postgraduate course in Special Educational Needs and Disability. It is offered from their Chelmsford campus with start dates of January and September. To find out more, visit:

This MSc is an accredited professional programme leading to qualification as a speech and language therapist (SLT). 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.

MA in Education (Early Years) modules

Centre for Research in Early Childhood

CREC offers a flexible way for trainees and early years practitioners to gain a post graduate Masters degree in Early Years Education. All modules are designed specifically for early years practitioners and leaders in the early years. They are offered as part-time courses which can be fitted around a busy, full-time working life.

Learn from the leading charity for deaf young people. They offer exclusive expert training and resources so professionals can better support deaf children and young people. Visit:

Special Needs and Disability (postgraduate course)

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/ BPhil/Advanced Certificate University of Birmingham

This 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) including autism (where it overlaps with SLD/ PMLD).

SENSORY ATTACHMENT INTERVENTION – 1 DAY CONFERENCE 12th October 2018 Fee £125 per person Includes Lunch & Refreshments ** Open to all **

This training day is an introduction to Sensory Attachment Intervention. Éadaoin will explore how Sensory Attachment Intervention recognises the need to address sensory issues alongside attachment issues, an extremely powerful combination working with body, brain and mind.

SENSORY ATTACHMENT INTERVENTION – 2 DAY TRAINING 10th & 11th Jan 2019 Fee £300 per person Includes Lunch & Refreshments ** Qualified Professionals working in Education, Health & Social Services **

This course introduces professionals to the theory and treatment of sensory attachment intervention. This course is prerequisite training for the following courses: The Just Right State Programme for Children and Parents and SAI Level Two for Professionals.


28th Feb & 1st March 2019 Fee £300 per person Includes Lunch & Refreshments ** Open to all **

How to create sensitive, emotionally available and reflective developmental environments for children In this 2-day seminar, ideas derived from psychological and biological reserach as well as practical models of working are presented. Participants are given ideas and practical tools VENUE how to think, act and emotionally improve adult-child interaction in everyday life. THE THREE SWAN HOTEL Market Harborough


26th – 27th Feb & 1st – 2nd April 2019 Fee £525 per person Includes Lunch & Refreshments ** Open to all **

You will learn how to administer/interpret the MIM both using qualitative observation sheets, as well as a quantitative rating system developed for MIM, called D-EIS (Dyadic Emotional Interaction Style). As well as knowledge of how to do reflective video feedback (RVF) with the parents/caregivers.



ABOUT US We host and deliver professional training, conferences, CPD and workshops with an emphasis on children's well-being, predominantly in the education sector




CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS MEd Autism and Learning University of Aberdeen

The programme aims to give practitioners an in-depth understanding of the condition and the working of the autistic mind. It seeks to 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.

MA in Education (Early Years) Centre for Research in Early Childhood

All Modules are designed specifically for early years practitioners and leaders in the early years. As such, they are offered as part-time courses which can be fitted around a busy, full-time working life.

MA in Professional Practice for Dyslexia and Literacy Dyslexia Action’s Master’s Degree in Dyslexia credits are undertaken with Middlesex University London. This part of the programme is applied for directly with the University.

MA Leading Inclusive Education Middlesex University

Developing inclusive education practice to support the needs of all learners is one of the most important challenges facing education professionals today. The MA Leading Inclusive Education is a distancelearning pathway for education professionals seeking to develop their leadership careers, offering alternatives to, and routes on from, current NCTL leadership qualifications and the National Award for SEN Coordination.

Online – live now Autism in Women and Girls

This online module explores how autism can differ in women and girls, and how best to recognise and support these autistic women and girls. SENISSUE94

Various Dates

ADHD Course Designed for educators and/ or support staff to successfully include learners with ADHD/ ADD and related conditions and provide effective strategies for inclusion of learners with ADHD Various dates see website for more details: training/adhd-training/

Various Dates

Helping Learners with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and ADHD Day Course A workshop that offers visual, auditory, social and behavioural strategies for teaching and support staff working with learners with autism, Asperger syndrome (ASDs), attention deficit hyperactive (impulsive) disorder (ADHD) and related conditions Various dates see website for more details:

Various Dates

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: training/dyslexia-training/

Various dates

Elklan Speech and Language Support for 3-5s 16 to 18 May: Birmingham 4 October: Cornwall

Various dates

Elklan Speech and Language Support for 5-11s 13 to 15 June: London 27 September: Cornwall

Delivered by Dr Amitta Shah, this masterclass explores catatonia, a severely disabling complication in autistic children and adults, raising awareness and teaching about early identification,

£380 per person.

diagnosis and management

01208 841450

strategies of catatonia states.

Various dates

Elklan Speech and Language Support for 11-16s 10 to 12 July: London 17 to 19 October: London

A practical training course for staff working in secondary schools to provide new approaches and strategies to help them maximise the young people’s communication potential and effectively differentiate the curriculum. £380 per person

01208 841450

8 May

Next steps for child mental health in England - developing a multiagency approach and provision in schools London

With Claire Robson (Public Health England), Catherine Tyack (Department of Health and Social Care), Professor Louise Arseneault (King’s College London), Sue Baillie (Royal

Grammar School, Newcastle),

Professor Dame Sue Bailey

May 2018

(Academy of Medical Royal Colleges), Laurie Day (ECORYS) and more.

1 May

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

A one-day course that explores 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.

2 May

Managing Employees with Autism

01208 841450


Three-day accredited level 2/3 course for teachers and TAs to enable them to develop the speech and language skills of all children, including those with SLCN and EAL.

The NAS’s two-day training course is for managers with autistic people in their team, who wish to increase their understanding of autism and how to support their team.

£380 per person.

Catatonia and autism masterclass

10 to 12 October: London

10 to 12 October: London

Accredited level 2/3 course which equips early years practitioners to develop key communication skills in children proved to ensure later success in school. Also supports children with EAL.

3 May

10 and 11 May

2-Day accredited AVIGuk Video Interaction Guidance™ (VIG) Training Canterbury

Necessary to become an accredited UK VIG practitioner. Uses video to support change within communication. £400.

12 May

Sensory Attachment Intervention. A day with Éadaoin Bhreathnach Conference. Cost: £183. The Centre for Child Mental Health

020 7354 2913



Mental health support for schools Mental health charity YoungMinds has launched a new schools programme to help put wellbeing at the heart of school improvement. Built on 25 years of experience, YoungMinds 360° Schools takes a holistic view of the needs of a school and supports it to take a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. YoungMinds 360° Schools focuses on three key areas. First, it supports whole school improvement. Schools are supported to take a whole school approach and ensure the school achieves best practice in wellbeing and resilience.

A whole school approach is the most meaningful and impactful way to build resilience and wellbeing in staff and pupils, including those who are more vulnerable, says the charity. By helping schools to assess their systems and embed approaches such as academic resilience across the school, pupils and staff will learn how to cope with change and adversity, to enjoy learning and to look after their mental health and wellbeing. Both bespoke in-house training and consultancy delivered at school and tailored to individual needs are offered. Second, it supports professionals by providing training and resources to give them the skills, knowledge and confidence to make a difference – making mental health and wellbeing a core and rewarding part of their job. It offers both in-house and open access training as well as advice, guidance and resources to support whole school improvement. Third, the programme seeks to equip pupils, parents and the wider school community with the tools they need to build their resilience and improve wellbeing. It provides training, peer mentoring and resources for teachers, pupils and parents to ensure this mental health understanding is shared across the people they interact with every day.






2 June

Kidz to Adultz South Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre One of the largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with a disability or additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. 140+ exhibitors offering advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports, leisure and more.

17 and 18 May

The Pyramid Approach to Education Workshop London

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 609555

26 May to 3 June

Kidz to Adultz South Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

The Festival will bring leading theatre, dance, multi-media and puppetry specifically made for young people to Edinburgh for nine days of entertaining shows and special events.

June 2018 June 2018

The Autism Show

FestABLE National Star College, Cheltenham

A one-day event which brings professionals, parents and young people together to tackle the big issues facing young people with disabilities and learning difficulties. Award-winning writer and actress Sally Phillips will deliver one of the keynote sessions.

12 June

Autism and SPELL in Higher Education London

This course will build your knowledge of autism and how to support autistic students at university using SPELL framework.

15 June

Bilingual Children with Speech and Language Difficulties Manchester

Best practice – delivered by Dr Sean Pert. £215 or £190 if two book together.

15 to 16 June

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

The Autism Show, the national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), attracts over 10,000 parents, carers, and professionals looking for the latest autism information, practical advice, products and services on the condition. Book your tickets now and save over 20 per cent at:

18 and 19 June

2-Day TEACCH Training Course Led by Professor Gary Mesibov, former Director of Div. TEACCH. £TBA.

London, Birmingham and Manchester

Discover practical tips and strategies to help care, support and teach autistic people. Listen to talks on making sense of self injury, improving sensory processing and exploring the barriers to employment. SENISSUE94

19 June

Autism and SPELL London

This course will build your knowledge of autism and how to support autistic students at school using SPELL framework.

20 to 22 June

3-Day SCERTS Training An introduction and application and assessment using the SCERTS framework Led By Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP Director, Communication Crossroads. £355.

21 June

Social Stories Birmingham

This course aims to support you to understand how to develop and use Social Stories. Delivered by Dr Siobhan Timmins, it is fully endorsed by Carol Gray.

22 to 23 June

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

The Autism Show, the national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), attracts over 10,000 parents, carers, and professionals looking for the latest autism information, practical advice, products and services on the condition. Book your tickets now and save over 20 per cent at:

27 to 29 June

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

01635 245911

29 to 30 June

The Autism Show in association with The National Autistic Society EventCity Manchester

The Autism Show, the national event for autism (including Asperger syndrome), attracts over 10,000 parents, carers, and professionals looking for the latest autism information, practical advice, products and services on the condition. Book your tickets now and save over 20 per cent at:

26 June

Initial teacher education in England – future for QTS, teaching apprenticeships and best practice provision London With Sir Andrew Carter (South Farnham School Educational Trust), Dr Angela Milner HMI (Ofsted), Malcolm Trobe (ASCL), Professor Samantha Twiselton (Sheffield Institute of Education) and more. Chaired by Baroness Donaghy.

July 2018 2 July to 26 August

Autism Spectrum Disorder ICEP Europe

Provides a thorough understanding of the autism spectrum and the practical techniques of Advanced Behaviour Analysis (ABA). The 2 modules are each 20 hours, fully online and self-paced.

2 July to 26 August 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.

Wellbeing and Resilience ICEP Europe

A three-module course covering all aspects of introducing positive psychology to build resilience, happiness and wellbeing. Each module is 20 hours online learning and can be completed separately.



CPD, TRAINING AND EVENTS 2 July to 26 August

Additional Learning Needs ICEP Europe

This course covers dyslexia, teaching gifted and talented students, Down syndrome and general learning disabilities. Designed to meet the need for flexible specialist training in the area of additional learning needs.

4 and 5 July

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Stoke on Trent

October 2018

6 July

PECS to Speech Generating Devices Interactive Workshop

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.


Positive Behaviour Support

01273 609 555

ICEP Europe

2 July to 26 August

This course covers dealing with troubled children to learning advanced classroom management skills. The two modules are 20 hours each online learning and can be completed at your own pace.

2 July to 26 August

Teaching & Learning ICEP Europe

Covering universal design for learning, teaching and learning with ICT and iPad support for students with specialist learning needs. Each 20 hour online module can be completed separately.

3 July

Right for the Future Conference Join the National Deaf Children’s Society for their annual conference. Understand how to support deaf young people into higher education, careers, and to live independent lives. Hear from high-profile speakers and deaf young people. Visit:

3 July

SoSAFE! Social and Sexual Safety/ Safeguarding Workshop Sheffield

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 609555 SENISSUE94

5 July

Kidz to Adultz Wales and West Thornbury Leisure Centre, Bristol

One of the largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with a disability or additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. 120+ exhibitors offering advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports, leisure and more.

5 and 6 July

Social Emotional and Mental Health: From Theory to Practice Coldra Court Hotel, Newport

engage in their future and SEBDA are offering a joint conference for 2018 around the theme “SEMH: From Theory Into Practice”. The programme includes keynote talks from Lemn Sissay, Harry Daniels and Sharon Gray, plus a choice of workshops, TeachMeet and networking opportunities. For further information, and to book your place, visit

6 July

nasen Live 2018 ICC, Birmingham

A hugely popular SEND conference, suitable for anyone working or supporting children and young people with SEND. Find out more:

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

01273 609 555

11 October

Music and Drama Education Expo | Manchester Europe’s leading conference for music and drama teachers returns to Manchester. The day features 20 CPD workshops and exhibition stands from leading arts organisations. Book free tickets at:

12 October 9 and 10 July

Building Resilient Children – Translating the Neuroscience Behind Emotional Wellbeing This two-day conference will translate the biopsychosocial perspective of resilience into practical things you can do in any setting to help children optimise their physical and mental health. Email:

August 2018 23 and 24 August

PECS Level 1 Training Workshop Brighton

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

September 2018 29 September

The Promise and the Pain of Social Media, Self Harm and Other Health-Harming Behaviours. Building resilience and healthhealing alternatives 10.00 - 17.00 Cost: £183 The Centre for Child Mental Health

Sensory Attachment Intervention OneDay Conference A day with Éadaoin will cover in detail the levels of her “SAI Model of Function and Dysfunction” and the differences between sensory and attachment.

16 to 18 October

Advanced Applications of TEACCH: “Beyond the Basics” Next step for TEACCH practitioners in pathway to Certified Practitioner accreditation. Stimulating and motivational three-day course to extend skills to consult, mentor and train other professionals in the TEACCH philosophy and strategies. Not available elsewhere outside the US TEACCH; early booking recommended. £795 professional/parent Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire

01635 245911

17 to 19 October

Elklan Communication Support for Verbal Pupils with ASD London

Three-day accredited level 2/3 course for teachers and TAs to enable them to develop the communication skills of pupils with autism and so enhance learning and interaction and diminish unwanted behaviour. £380 per person.

020 7354 2913

01208 841450








22 October

Five-day TEACCH Course

Inspirational, intensive course combining active learning sessions with direct experience working with students with autism. Led by trainers from Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina and experienced practitioners and TEACCH trainers from Prior's Court. Course runs twice a year in February and October. Places limited so early booking advised. Prior’s Court Training and Development Centre, Newbury, Berkshire £1295 professionals/parents

01635 245911

25 to 27 October

GESS Turkey Wow Istanbul Convention Centre

Visitors can meet the full sphere of educational establishments from early years, K-12 private and public schools, vocational colleges and universities. They will also find ministerial delegates, private school owners, directors, principals, heads of department, procurement and purchasing managers.

Postgraduate certificate in autism and Asperger syndrome London

This popular postgraduate certificate in autism and Asperger syndrome is run with Sheffield Hallam University.

8 November

Kidz to Adultz North EventCity, Manchester

One of the largest free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with a disability or additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them. 180+ exhibitors offering advice and information on funding, mobility, seating, beds, communication, access, education, toys, transport, style, sensory, sports, leisure and more.

January 2019 January 2019

3-Day TEACCH Training Course Led By Professor Gary Mesibov former Dir. of Div TEACCH. Cost: £398.

10 and 11 January

Sensory Attachment Intervention Two-Day Introductory Course

This course is aimed at teachers and professionals and will cover the theory and treatment of SAI. You will learn sensory techniques to bolt onto your practice and review current interventions.

February 2019

January 2019

2-Day SCERTS Training Training course led by Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP Director, Communication Crossroads. Cost: £265.

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.

26 and 27 February & 1 and 2 April

Marschak Interaction Method Skills Training

You will learn how to administer/ interpret the MIM using a quantitative rating system developed for the MIM called D-EIS (Dyadic Emotional Interaction Style)

28 Feb and 1 March

Shared Parenting Seminar

The event will cover how to think, act and emotionally improve adult-child interaction in everyday life drawing on psychological and biological research.

Scotland Policy Conferences Keynote Seminar

Next steps for child mental health in England

Protecting and supporting vulnerable children - next steps for the Independent Care Review and the Child Protection Improvement Programme

Developing a multi-agency approach and provision in schools

19 June 2018 Central Edinburgh with Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, The Scottish Government Fiona Duncan, Chair, Independent Care Review Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, Inspiring Children’s Futures and CELCIS, University of Strathclyde Karen Reid, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate Anne Houston, Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland and Mark Allison, Livingstone Brown and Lorraine Gray, Scottish Social Services Council SENISSUE94

Morning, Tuesday 8 May 2018 Central London Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar with Catherine Tyack, Department of Health and Social Care Claire Robson, Public Health England Lydia Marshall, Senior Researcher, Children, Families and Work, NatCen Social Research and Professor Louise Arseneault, King’s College London; Sue Baillie, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear; Laurie Day, ECORYS; Dr Lynne Green, Place2Be; Jo Hardy, YoungMinds; Caroline Hounsell, Mental Health First Aid; Dr Pooky Knightsmith, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition; Rowan Munson, former Member, Youth Select Committee on Mental Health and University College, University of Oxford; Sally Murray, NHS Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group; Linda Oliver, Harrietsham Church of England Primary School, Kent and Matthew Peers, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group Chaired by: Lord Lucas, Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skills and Employment WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK



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

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival From Saturday 26 May to Sunday 3 June, the 29th Edinburgh International Children’s Festival will bring some of the world’s best theatre, dance, multi-media and puppetry specifically made for young people to Edinburgh for nine days of inspiring and entertaining shows and special events. “2018 promises to be another spectacular year for the Children’s Festival,” said Edinburgh International Children’s Festival Director Noel Jordan. “We are delighted to present some of the very best companies making work for young people from around the world as well as some of the best artists living in Scotland”. The Festival will include works of intimate, immersive theatre specifically designed for babies and toddlers, through to high-energy and thought-provoking shows for primary and secondary school age children.

2 & 3 DAY TRAINING COURSE June 2 DAY 25-26 2018 £287 January 3 DAY TBA 2019 £TBA

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:

Introduction & Application to the



June 3 DAY 27-29 2018 £355 January 2 DAY TBA 2019 £TBA 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: WWW.SENMAGAZINE.CO.UK





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


Epilepsy Epilepsy Action

Bullying UK

Information and support forum for those

Support and advice on bullying:

affected by ADD/ADHD:


Young Epilepsy

National Attention Deficit Disorder from bullying: Information and Support Service (ADDISS)

Advice and support for those suffering

Resources and information for ADHD:

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

Cerebral palsy


Advice and information on epilepsy:

Scope UK


Help, advice and support for children

Asperger Foundation UK (ASF)

Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder charity.

and adults affected by cerebral palsy:

Support for people with Asperger’s syndrome:

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

Down syndrome Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA)

Charity raising funds for medical research into autism:

National Autistic Society (NAS) Help and information for those affected by ASD:

Research Autism Charity focused on researching interventions in autism:

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

Beat Bullying

Support for those affected by foetal alcohol spectrum disorder:

Information, support and training for

General SEN

those affected by Down syndrome:


The National Organisation for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome UK

The Down’s Syndrome Research Foundation UK (DSRF) Charity focussing on medical research into Down syndrome:

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

Driver Youth Trust Charity offering free information and resources on dyslexia.

Dyspraxia Dyspraxia Foundation UK

British Institute for Learning Disabilities Charity for learning disabilities:

Cerebra UK Charity for children with brain related conditions:

Child Brain Injury Trust Charity supporting children, young people, families and professionals.

Department for Education (DfE) UK Government department.

Mencap 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

PMLD (App)

PMLD Network

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):

Information and support for PMLD: senfyi-app.html

Rebound Therapy

SEN law Douglas Silas Solicitors

Action on Hearing Loss Hearing impairment charity:

Deafness Research UK Charity promoting medical research into hearing impairment:

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

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

Independent Parental Special Education Advice

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

Spina bifida Shine

Literacy National Literacy Trust (NLT)

Visual impairment National Blind Children’s Society

Support and services for parents and carers of blind children:

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Support and advice to those affected by visual impairment:

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

ACE Centre Advice on communication aids:

Afasic Help and advice on SLCN:

Communication Matters

Literacy charity for adults and children:

Support for people with little or no clear speech:


Tourette's Action


Learning outside the classroom

Tourette’s syndrome

Langley Wellington LLP Solicitors

Information and support relating to spina bifida and hydrocephalus:

Awarding body for the LOtC quality badge:

National organisation for home educators:

Council for Learning Outside the classroom (CLOtC)

The Communication Trust Raising awareness of SLCN:

Legal advice and support for parents:

Home education The Home Education Network UK


The UK governing body and international Information and advice on Tourette’s: consultancy for Rebound Therapy:

Hearing impairment




eazine for special SthuebUK'sslecadrinib g mag

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