The research study summarised in this article sought to develop an understanding of the issues that affect the inclusion of disabled children in play in the playgrounds of six primary schools in Yorkshire (1)

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This evaluation of four approaches used in the Primary Behaviour and Attendance pilot study is relevant to the work of SENCOs involved in helping pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. It also identifies management issues pertinent to SENCOs involved in supporting similar whole-school initiatives. read more

In a new memorandum, the DfES has outlined three key principles that underpin its approach to improving SEN provision in England. The application of these principles is summarised in this article with reference to the Education and Skills Select Committee of Inquiry into SEN. read more

As with its interim report, most attention and controversy has focused on the Rose review’s support for synthetic as opposed to analytic phonics. However, for SENCOs, the review’s findings on the provision that best supports children with significant literacy difficulties are particularly relevant. read more

In this article, Cath Malin (Sandwell Local Authority’s SEN and Inclusion Adviser) describes how schools and the local authority have developed a collaborative and systematic approach to developing inclusive educational practice. The approach, which makes use of the Index for Inclusion, places a particularly high emphasis on self-evaluation and is therefore responsive to the requirements of the Ofsted inspection framework. read more

While dyslexia is now widely accepted as a specific difficulty and is becoming better understood, its equivalent in the world of numeracy lags far behind explains Linda Evans

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Networking: Advisers network for DCD/dyspraxia

A meeting will take place for advisory staff who wish to network, share good practice and resources, consider joint training events and exchange research developments in their local area.

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The Learning and Teaching Scotland website includes an excellent section on developments in inclusive education. Simply click on ‘Inclusive Education’ to find out more, and to read about specific developments in policy and provision, click again on ‘Additional Support for Learning Act’.

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A recent national audit of ‘low-incidence’ special needs shows that local authorities generally have some level of specialist service and provision to meet low incidence needs, in terms of education support teams and mainstream unit/special school provision. read more

During the last oral evidence session of the House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee of Inquiry into Special Educational Needs (22 March 2006), Lord Adonis, parliamentary under-secretary of state with responsibility for SEN, responded to a wide range of questions about current and future developments in SEN policy in England. read more

The National Autistic Society has developed a flexible learning programme to educate teachers working with children with autism in school

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The final report from the Rose review of the teaching of early reading* has recommended that: ‘notwithstanding the uncertainties of research, there is much convincing evidence to show from the practice observed that, as generally understood, “synthetic” phonics is the form of systematic phonic work that offers the vast majority of beginners the best route to becoming skilled readers. read more

Children and young people with complex health needs. read more

I CAN, the charity concerned with meeting the needs of a wide range of pupils with communication difficulties has an easy-to-navigate and informative website. It includes dedicated areas that provide advice and support related to early years and school phases of education.

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A preparatory school that excluded a six-year-old boy with Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes has been forced to apologise to him and reimburse his school fees. The pupil’s parents, who challenged the school’s decision under the Disability Discrimination Act, were backed by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC). read more

Nasen is committed to securing the professional status of SENCOs and membership of school leadership teams. Following a series of seminars involving effective and innovative SENCOs from primary and secondary schools, reflections on the role of the SENCO were collated and this information will be used to inform the development of detailed good practice guidance. read more

More people are working in schools than ever before, including almost half a million support staff. Support staff who are well trained, fairly rewarded, and clear about their distinctive contribution, can be instrumental in the work of raising standards and enriching the lives of children. read more

The important issue regarding the professional status of SENCOs was raised during the Select Committee of Inquiry (SEN) oral evidence sessions held on 8 March 2005. read more

In response to the requirements of Part 4 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, local authorities (LAs) and schools now need to review and revise their strategies and plans to improve access to schools for disabled pupils.

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To what extent do Parent Partnership Services work in supporting national strategies for promoting inclusion and reducing poor outcomes for some individual pupils with special educational needs? SENCOs who are often the link between PPSs, parents and their school will be interested in answers to this question and others in the findings of this new study. read more

Dr Steve Rayner (School of Education, University of Birmingham) explores recent criticisms of the use of learning styles in education, arguing that they are, when used in well-considered ways, an essential feature of personalised learning. read more

As the Rose review of the teaching of early reading continues, primary SENCOs will be interested in the latest research findings contributing to the debate on the merits of synthetic phonics teaching

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Amelia Wallington argues that with the integration of children’s services there should be a more joined-up and multi-agency approach to assessing educational needs

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What makes Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs) effective? read more

The Implementation Review Unit (IRU) reviewed progress made towards reducing bureaucracy and paperwork associated with special educational needs policy, practice and provision in its second annual report published in July 2005. The report noted that despite positive recommendations made by the Cabinet Office/DfES review of SEN, efforts to support schools in reducing bureaucracy had not had much impact. This article outlines key areas identified in the report, where change can impact positively on the work of schools, and the role that local authorities can play in supporting them. read more

Not all local authorities fully appreciate the value of Parent Partnership Services (PPSs), according to new research(1). Some authorities are not convinced about the use of the service in enhancing outcomes for pupils with special educational needs. read more

Nasen’s chief executive officer, Lorraine Peterson, has confirmed that the UK’s leading special educational needs professional organisation is committed to the view that SENCOs should be qualified teachers and members of school senior leadership teams. Writing in a recent edition of the Nasen publication Special, she also argues that SENCOs need sufficient time and resources to be able to carry out their duties efficiently, and in ways that enable them to coordinate the best support for pupils with special educational needs.(1) read more

A Summary of DfES Statistical First Release – SFR 42/2005 (September 2005) indicates that in January 2005 nearly 8.3 million pupils attended 25,300 maintained and independent schools in England. Ninety-one percent of pupils were taught in maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools; 7% of pupils attended independent schools; 1% of pupils attended maintained and non-maintained special schools. Overall numbers for each type of placement are listed below: read more

In a letter to chief education officers and directors of children’s services (12 January 2006), secretary of state for education and skills, Ruth Kelly, has called upon local authorities to act upon problems associated with SEN-related bureaucracy. read more

The joint DfES/DH guidance Education of Children and Young People in Public Care (May 2000) recommended that schools assign a senior member of staff as designated teacher to act as a champion for looked after children. A new guide for school governors on their role in helping schools support these children will be helpful to SENCOs in defining the designated teacher role and offering useful information and explanations about what ‘looked after’ means. read more

SEN Regional Partnerships (SENRPs) cover all local authorities in England and this website provides an easy means of accessing information about their activities, including case studies, development work and a growing body of useful publications.

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The South West (SW) SEN Regional Partnership has worked with a range of partners in recent years to develop guidance on the provision of effective special school outreach. As well as reflecting development work in the SW region the guidance takes account of recommendations in Removing Barriers to Achievement (DfES 2004) and Ofsted’s (2005) report Inclusion: the impact of LEA support and outreach services.

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The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee concludes its evidence gathering on 22 March 2006. In addition to hearing further oral evidence, the committee will review written memoranda and undertake a number of related visits within the UK. read more

In tackling educational disadvantage by personalised learning, the government should have strong regard to children with special educational needs, according to a report from the parliamentary select committee on education. read more

Recent Ofsted reports on primary and secondary national strategies show that schools still have some way to go in developing inclusion. read more

Parenting programmes are one aspect of the government’s Respect action plan, which could be helpful for SENCOs. The action plan will include a focus on the most problematic families coupled with a much wider extension of parenting classes to ensure parents get the help they need to fulfil their responsibilities in bringing up their children. read more

The Commission on Special Educational Needs, set up by the Conservative Party in July 2005, and chaired by Sir Robert Balchin, published a first interim report on its findings on 2 December 2005. The report is based on a wide range of both oral and written evidence, much of which highlights concerns about the statutory SEN framework and statementing in particular. read more

This is an excellent introductory text to special educational needs and inclusion. It is aimed at trainee teachers and addresses relevant Professional Standards for QTS, but is certainly not constrained by these. The book is organised around three key themes of: principles and policies of special educational needs; working with others; and practical applications in the primary classroom.

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The DfES has issued a revised version of its guidance aimed to support schools and local authorities in recording pupils’ needs in the Pupil Level Annual Schools Census (PLASC).* Data is used to help with planning, to study trends and to monitor the outcomes of initiatives and interventions for pupils with different types of SEN. read more

The future of the SEN Regional Partnerships has been confirmed until 2008. They will have a wider remit, which will include issues affecting vulnerable children. read more

The interim report* of the Rose review of the teaching of early reading has attracted most attention for its support of the approach, which is generally understood as ‘synthetic’ phonics. read more

Dr Ruth MacConville, head of the SEN Service in Ealing, describes how one local authority has taken seriously what is often the rhetoric of policy, and developed an ongoing approach to consulting disabled children and young people through conferencing. read more

Learning mentors come from all walks of life. They offer the chance for a positive role model and individual attention to many young people, who otherwise would not have that opportunity. Kathy Salter and Rhonda Twidle, drawing on their own experience as mentors, describe how the role has developed in recent years, and how it can complement the support provided by SEN specialists. read more

Ian Summers, husband of a SENCO employee in Norfolk, describes how he developed a SEN diary to help his wife save time at work, thus enabling her to focus her attention on meeting the needs of pupils. read more

Are you a SENCO looking for practical tips, in-depth knowledge, or inspiration? Take a look at these book lists and reviews. read more

Following the introduction of a new Code of Practice in Scotland, in which the term special educational needs has been replaced with the concept of additional support for learning and an emphasis is placed on circumstances in which learning takes place rather on categorisation of need, it might be assumed that developments in inclusive education have moved ahead of those in England and Wales.(1) read more

The parliamentary Education and Skills Committee began to hear oral evidence in its inquiry into special educational needs on 31 October. The first session included evidence from Baroness Warnock, in which she expressed her views on the role of SENCOs and teaching assistants.

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The DfES is currently undertaking a consultation about the development of quality standards for SEN support and outreach services with a strong focus on strengthening inclusion. read more

There is widespread acknowledgement of the importance of working in partnership with parents – especially where children with special needs are concerned. But reaching parents of the most vulnerable children can prove difficult. Jill McMinn and Gill Britten describe a project in Wrexham which has won the hearts and minds of the parents involved. read more

During the oral evidence session of the Education and Skills Select Committee of Inquiry into SEN held on 14 November 2005, the issue of special educational needs focused training appeared to be a matter of significant concern to committee members.1 Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods (committee member and labour MP, City of Durham) asked representatives of the DfES a number of pointed questions about government policy on the matter. read more