Public awareness of SEN is growing. At a policy level, Every Child Matters is highlighting achievement and enjoyment for all. In schools, teachers are overcoming barriers in the classroom, and learning more about meeting individual needs. The articles here will inform, update and stimulate your work with pupils with SEN – scroll to the bottom of this page to see specific topics, or browse the full list.

With 20% of children leaving school with lower than expected literacy levels, additional support is needed. Reading Recovery, a reading intervention programme developed in 1993, offers exactly that, say Rebecca Jenkin and Isobel Goss

Sound is now an integral part of the sensory environments that exist in many special schools, and the latest technology involved encourages interaction, stimulation and feedback

Are pupils with special educational needs receiving the level of music provision they ought, as LAs and schools are getting more money for it than ever before?

Louise Coigley enhances and develops the communication of SEN children and adults through inclusive storytelling. Michael Jones describes seeing her in action

Following the government’s rejection of the recommendation that the link between assessment of children’s SEN and funding for their provision be broken, John Wright discusses the reaction of the select committee who proposed the change

In March 2008, a four-year investigation into whether Glaxosmithkline had withheld negative information about the effects of Seroxat on under-18s ended with a decision that there was insufficient evidence to mount a successful prosecution. Special Children reports

Michael Farrell considers a wide range of provision for pupils with development coordination disorder, or dyspraxia

Jason Wood describes a groundbreaking project in which two Cornish schools carried out research comparing the views of SEN students and their peers on ECM outcomes

The rulings of two recent legal cases indicate that an SEN pupil’s attitude and application will now be key in assessing educational negligence claims, writes Mark Blois

Michael Farrell considers provision for pupils with moderate learning difficulties (MLD)

Bill Goler examines how the Common Assessment Framework is working in practice and how SENCOs can and should be involved in its implementation

Nasen promotes the development of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN). Chief executive officer Lorraine Petersen explains their CPD offering

Special education consultant Michael Farrell considers provision for pupils with severe learning difficulties (SLD)

SENCO Update reports a framework for local authorities that contextualises SEN/LDD issues within the five outcomes of Every Child Matters will be helpful to SENCOs

It all depends on the SEN and disability discrimination regimes. David Ruebain, Chris Barnett and David Wolfe examine a recent case that sets out some limits

At times the collaborative partnership process for SENCOs and senior leaders in schools can be challenging and time consuming. Rita Cheminais looks at how to establish effective partnerships, and describes a new ECM self-evaluation tool that will help to strengthen partnership working

All statutory services are being measured against the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda. New research on what disabled children and their parents wish to achieve from service provision suggests that ECM does not take proper account of their wishes

Consultant Harriet Goodman describes two years’ work with staff at New Rush Hall special school to help build even more reflective practice

Who gets the final say in deciding when a statement of SEN comes to an end? David Ruebain, Chris Barnett and David Wolfe unravel a complex new case

Significant numbers of children with epilepsy attend mainstream schools. If they are to get the most from their education it is important for schools to know what, and how, to tell all pupils about their condition. Ann Lewis and Sarah Parsons of the University of Birmingham School of Education outline the findings of a one-year research project funded by Epilepsy Action

Pauline Holbrook, national inclusion coordinator for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, talks to SENCO Update about the nature and role of specialist SEN schools and gives advice on how to make the most of the expertise within them and the services they provide

Carol Frankl describes how the concept of the Learning Walk has been adapted for accredited SENCO training and the positive effect this has had on trainees’ perception of their work

A recent Ofsted survey of 28 good or outstanding PRUs sought to identify what contributes to effective practice. It also reveals some of the barriers to it, including insufficient data from schools and LAs and inadequate decisions about long-term placement

The Reading Recovery programme has established a reputation as an effective intervention for pupils at risk of failing to learn to read. A new research review examines its strengths and weaknesses

A consultation document from the DCSF seeks views on proposals for regulations to ensure that SENCOs are qualified teachers with a defined role in the leadership and management of the school

Working with very able pupils presents a challenge to any teacher, but when learners also have special educational needs, there are complex issues to address. Julian Whybra shares his experiences of children and young people with Asperger syndrome

SENCOs will have a significant role to play in carrying out the new duties set out in the Disability Discrimination Act, writes Bill Goler

Sarah Whitehead describes a project that she undertook as part of a postgraduate professional development course for SENCOs. She highlights the value of having time for systematic professional reflection, and how this can be used to good effect when introducing ‘Catch Up’, an intervention designed to support reading development

What is literacy for children who do not learn to read and write? Drawing on a recent study, Dr Lyn Layton calls for a radical reinterpretation of what is meant by literacy, arguing that we should prepare all teachers to recognise a broad interpretation of literacy that is in line with the diverse needs and activities of learners

A report into the range of teaching approaches used for dyslexic children in Scotland and their effectiveness recommends early intervention and a tailored approach, with an emphasis on the power of appropriate teaching techniques to help children to become normal learners

Sal McKeown looks at some of the implications of the renewed primary Framework for those working with children with special educational needs

Gross motor skills are the movements of the large muscles of the body. These activities will help to develop and improve gross motor skills.

Pragmatics refers to the ability to communicate in social situations. These classroom activities will help all children to develop social communication skills.

These classroom activities can help develop grammar skills, particularly syntax and morphology

Headteacher Neil Berry explains how Brampton Manor in East London – described by Ofsted in December 1999 as having ‘serious weaknesses’ – was turned into the fully inclusive, successful school it is today

Legal Surgery answers a question about exclusion of a violent pupil who has SEN

Michael Farrell looks at a number of different areas in which special provision is needed

A six-phase programme for teaching phonics aims to help children become fluent readers by the age of seven

A research study on tackling low achievement suggests that children with special educational needs form a large percentage of low achievers but more could be done to assist them through their schooling

Wireless technology is useful, but raises health concerns. Vicky Lapins looks at schools’ obligations for safer use

Two recent policy reviews have established the government’s priorities for spending on public services that help disabled and disadvantaged pupils

Linda Evans looks at how SENCOs can deliver training sessions to help TAs explore different ways of supporting pupils and teachers in and out of the classroom

A new report considers why some children who did well at Key Stage 1 do not maintain the same rate of progress at Key Stage 2

Many SENCOS work with looked after children. The results of a consultation on proposals to help children in care suggest ways of improving support for these children

Special education consultant Michael Farrell considers provision for pupils with orthopaedic impairments and motor disorders

The curriculum review section of most direct interest to SENCOs concerns organising the curriculum. SENCO Update reports

All primary schools must have a disability equality scheme in place by December 2007. Margaret Collins offers some practical suggestions to help you meet the challenge

Do you like to use moments of quietness and reflection in your classes? Do you like to tell stories while the pupils listen attentively? If so, consider using music as a soundtrack to boost visualisation and imagination, suggests Mark McKergow

Question: How must a local authority assess the special educational needs of a child in its area? What is the extent of the duty?

New research evaluates how effectively Sure Start programmes help children with special needs and disabilities

Inclusion of SEN students requires lots of involvement from teaching assistants. Enid Alston introduces a new training course designed to help

A useful update on the current law regarding discrimination is provided by Patti Turner

Many SENCOs in primary schools also have a designated responsibility for G&T children. New guidance should ensure that effective provision for this group of children is in place. It may also help clarify whether or not SENCOs can be expected to take primary responsibility for this task.

The 2020 Vision report calls for personalised learning to be designed to reduce the ‘persistent and unacceptable gaps in average attainment between different groups of pupils’.

Linda Evans suggests how SENCOs can plan and deliver training on subjects which feature prominently in the role of most teaching assistants (TAs).

Philip Jones presents a case study and discusses the difficulties faced by schools when providing intimate care to pupils who have disabilities.

Gill O’Donnell argues that schools need to take a proactive approach to fire alarms if they are not to fall foul of the new disability discrimination legislation.

SENCOs who may be involved with pupils facing the possibility of exclusion should be aware that the latest guidance on procedure is now available online. With some changes in official advice this makes it an appropriate time for SENCOs to consider school policies in relation to arrangements for pupils with special educational needs and pupils with disabilities.

Drawing on his personal and professional experiences, Mark Prever highlights the importance for schools of actively seeking ways to enhance the emotional wellbeing of their pupils. He also makes the case for pupils to have an entitlement to counselling.

SENCOs have an important role to play in providing continuing professional development for their colleagues in schools. A recent Ofsted survey lists recommendations for improving practice.

ICT can enhance opportunities for inclusive learning. However, getting the right ICT tools in place to support this process can be a daunting prospect. In this article Gerald Haigh, in conversation with SENCOs, shows what is possible and argues that simple innovations tailored to individual needs often work best.

QUESTION: What considerations should we apply when considering permanent exclusion of a pupil with special educational needs?

The House of Commons Education and Skills Select Committee undertook a major review of special education in 2005-2006 and published a report that asked the government to clarify its policy on inclusive education. This article summarises the questions that the Select Committee asked, outlines the government response to these, and provides a brief analysis of this response.

A new report confirms that joined-up working has been a positive and significant experience for the majority of those involved.

How can you handle children’s surprise at a new classmate’s disfigurement in a way that is positive for everybody? Jane Frances of Changing Faces offers some practical ideas.

Rosemary Norburn and Glenys Heap, both Training Principals from Dyslexia Action, describe new advice and support available for SENCOs

The new and rapidly changing context of the Every Child Matters agenda presents challenges and opportunities for the role of the educational psychologist. This forms the backdrop against which a review of the functions and contribution of educational psychologists has been conducted.

The Early Support programme seeks to improve the quality, consistency and coordination of services for young disabled children and their families. A new report examines its effectiveness.

Every Disabled Child Matters is a three-year campaign by organisations working with disabled children and their families. Its objectives and proposed actions for change are summarised below.

Semantic knowledge is the ability to understand narrative. This includes the ability to understand the meanings of words in different contexts, as well as a knowledge of the meaning of relationships between words. The activities listed here will help develop semantic knowledge.

Word finding is the ability to access vocabulary from the long-term memory. These activities can help develop word finding skills and can be used in lessons for the benefit of all pupils.

Listening is the ability to attend to sounds across a range of stimuli. Pupils with listening and attention difficulties have one of two problems…

Spatial awareness is the ability to be aware of oneself in space. Awareness of spatial relationships is the ability to see two or more objects in relation to each other and to oneself. These activities will help develop spatial awareness skills and can be used in lessons for the benefit of all pupils

Visual comprehension is the ability to listen to information that has been given orally, then remember it, understand it and use the information across a range of tasks. These activities can help develop skills in this area, and can be incorporated into lessons for the benefit of all pupils.

Visual perception is the ability to recognise, interpret and organise visual images. The activities listed here will help develop visual perception skills and can be incorporated into lessons to benefit all pupils.

Auditory memory is the ability to recall information that has been given orally. The activities listed here can help develop auditory memory and can be incorporated into lessons for the benefit of all pupils.

Visual memory is the ability to recall information that has been presented visually. The activities listed here can help develop visual memory and can be incorporated into a lesson for the benefit of all pupils.

Visual discrimination is the ability to recognise similarities and differences between visual images. The activities listed here can help develop visual discrimination skills and can be used in lessons to benefit all children.

Phonological awareness is the ability to be aware of sounds within words and to be able to break down words into syllables and into phonemes. The activities listed here can help develop phonological awareness and can be used in lessons for the benefit of all children.

Auditory discrimination is the ability to detect similarities and differences when listening to sounds. The activities listed here can be used to strengthen auditory discrimination skills and can be incorporated into a lesson to benefit all children.

Dr Diane Bebbington and Eileen Burke examine the effects of unsupported language difficulties.

Dr Diane Bebbington discusses the implications of a new initiative to address inequalities.

Changing attitudes is fundamental to achieving full inclusion argues Liz Fitzpatrick.

A new survey draws attention to the lack of preparedness for dealing with epilepsy in schools. The survey was presented as part of National Epilepsy Week’s theme of ‘Educational challenges for children and younger people’. Epilepsy Action has also produced information and resources which SENCOs will find useful in advising colleagues.

For any SENCO looking at how SEN is defined, identified and assessed in her own local education authority and elsewhere, it soon becomes apparent that the identification and assessment of SEN is not only complex but confused. Michael Farrell suggests that SENCOs can contribute to clarifying our understandings of SEN.

Whether at home or at school, ICT can play a major role in enabling young people to achieve their potential whether or not they have a disability or specific learning difficulties, says Adam Waits, lead assessor (children and young adults) at national computing and disability charity, AbilityNet.

The guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Inter-agency Working to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children’ is highly relevant to SENCOs.

The government’s 10-year strategy for childcare, Choice for parents, the best start for children, promised to establish a single coherent development and learning framework for all young children from birth to the age of five. The DfES is currently consulting on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which provides that framework.

This month’s professional update summarises the requirements of the Disability Equality Duty (DED) for the public sector and outlines the steps that schools, colleges and local authorities will need to take to ensure that they comply with new legislative requirements.

Recently published research by a team based at the University of Cambridge highlights the efforts of teachers and other staff in schools to develop inclusive educational practice. At the same time, it provides evidence that these efforts are unsustainable in the long term, and that a national review of policy and practice is required.

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and Lead Professional (LP) work are key elements in the Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme. This evaluation of authorities trialling the new approach will be of interest to SENCOs who will become increasingly engaged as the national roll-out continues for these processes for multi-agency working.

The Education and Skills Committee report on SEN includes a brief but important analysis of the role of the SENCO, which highlights a major gap between policy rhetoric and reality.

Many SENCOs, though aware of the benefits of ICT, are a bit wary of its complexities. Gerald Haigh provides a user-friendly guide

In addition to its specific recommendations concerning SENCOs, the Education Select Committee has outlined a future strategy on special educational needs. The government’s response will have many implications for the work of SENCOs

The Special Educational Needs Regional Partnerships (SEN RPs) have made a substantial and marked contribution to the government’s agenda regarding provision for pupils with SEN, according to a report* from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

Researchers based at the University of Bristol are examining the support for children with complex communication needs – in both mainstream and special schools – to express their views and make decisions for themselves.

More and more schools throughout the country are realising that children with specific reading difficulties can be helped by the use of colour, either in the form of coloured overlays or as individually prescribed coloured spectacle lenses. By Tim Noakes.

A quick list of tips for calming hyperactive children, including preventative strategies

A new review group has been set up to recommend ways of:

When dealing with pupils with challenging behaviour and emotional difficulties, risk assessment is vital says Amelia Wallington

What duty of care does a school educational psychologist owe a pupil and, if the psychologist is negligent, what damages will the LEA be liable for?

One of our pupils is in care and has a statement of SEN. Her parents disagree with the statement’s provisions and plan to appeal to the special educational needs and disability tribunal. Which takes precedence, SENDIST or the family court?

Achieving inclusion — becoming an inclusive pyramid.

Inclusion has become one of the must hotly-debated topics in education — there are almost as many different takes on it as there are schools. Brahm Norwich, Professor of Educational Psychology and Special Educational Needs at the University of Exeter, helps you to unpick what inclusion means to your school and shows you how to develop strategies that will allow you to achieve this approach in practice.

Too many schools are not providing bilingual students with enough of the right support to help them succeed in their learning, according to the findings of a new report from Ofsted.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

The National Autistic Society has developed a flexible learning programme for schools.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

Children and young people with complex health needs.

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:

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)

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.

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.

The Children Act 2004 insists that agencies should work together to ensure that all children benefit from the five outcomes outlined within it. One of these outcomes, that relating to educational assessment and achievement, is already catered for in the statutory framework for SEN, but education lawyer 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

SENCOs working with pupils with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties will be interested in the findings of three recent surveys, which indicate the extent of mental health problems among children and young people, and attempt to improve professional support for them.

The DfES has reminded schools and SENCOs that in order to comply with the statutory framework and have regard to The SEN Code of Practice, it is necessary for schools to:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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

The title of this book combines two of the biggest ‘buzz terms’ emerging in the field of mainstream education during the last decade. Each resonates with a distinctive snap, crackle and pop when referred to by academics, school practitioners and parent groups.

Recent statements from the DfES raise questions over the admission of pupils with special educational needs to the self-governing ‘trust’ schools proposed in the new education white paper.

Linda Evans considers the implications for SENCOs in helping trainee and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) to develop effective strategies for meeting pupils’ individual needs.

Chris Terrell outlines the benefits of using Tooncards, an exciting new resource for teachers, which he has developed, offering teachers additional possibilities for enhancing communication, engagement and understanding in the classroom.

John Liddle, head of services to education, AbilityNet East, challenges readers to think anew about the effective use of technology to support children with special educational needs and how this has implications for the role of learning support assistants.

In their report Serious Play: an Evaluation of Arts Activities in Pupil Referral Units and Learning Support Units, Wilkin, Gulliver and Kinder (2005) review the work of seven arts projects (four PRU based and three LSU based) that have taken place in recent years.

A new report* has queried whether there is sufficient capacity and effective management in the system to deliver the new arrangements for Every Child Matters successfully in all council areas.

In its evidence to the SEN inquiry, the charity I CAN calls for a three-pronged strategic programme to actively support children’s speech and language development, comprising:

On 18 November 2004 the then secretary of state for education and skills, Charles Clarke, announced the government’s expectation that schools should be working in collaboration to improve behaviour and tackle truancy by September 2007.

The House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, one of a number of the house’s select committees, started its inquiry into special educational needs at the beginning of October.

Education secretary Ruth Kelly has announced extra funding to help children struggling with basic literacy and numeracy. This will include support for individual one-to-one and small-group tuition at key stage 3.

As the Change for Children programme progresses, Simon Collister looks at how more and more children with medical conditions are having their needs met in mainstream settings.

SENCOs are well aware of the importance of professionals and parents working together as emphasised in the SEN Code of Practice and Removing Barriers to Achievement. In this article Wendy Magee, Solihull SNAP (Special Needs Active Partnership) senior coordinator describes the joint development in partnership with parents of Hand in Hand – a resource folder for schools and services.

As integrated services for children become the norm, key workers, or lead professionals, are likely to play an increasingly important role in coordinating support for children and young people with SEN or disabilities. Recently published research identifies what effective key worker support looks like in practice and what should be done to ensure that it is effective. These findings and their implications are likely to be of particular interest to SENCOs who may take on key worker roles in the future.

Pilot schemes designed to examine the practical questions of building on the phonics teaching already present in primary schools and early years settings, and further catch-up classes for children with severe literacy problems, started in selected primary schools from September 2005. SENCOs will be especially interested in the evaluation of the benefits of an approach based on intensive individual one-to-one support.

I CAN, the charity that helps children communicate has coined the term ‘communication disability’ to encompass the problems faced by all 1.2 million children and young people across the UK with speech, language or communication difficulties or delays.

Ofsted’s latest report on the Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP), Improving Behaviour and Attendance in Primary Schools shows it has had a good impact on both primary and secondary schools but in a minority of secondary schools behaviour and attendance have deteriorated.

Improving inclusive practice

The Department for Education and Skills has launched a consultation seeking views on the draft of the first cross-government guidance on information sharing in respect of children and young people.

Amelia Wallington reflects, on the basis of her own work as a solicitor working in the field of education law, on recent debates about the SEN framework and whether or not it is helping children, parents, or professionals. Her call for legislative change adds weight to the view that the government is wrong to think that the framework can continue to provide an effective means of meeting children’s special educational needs.

Many statistics point to the potential risks and disadvantages of being a boy, but how can we help them fulfil their potential? Maggie Dent investigates

A recently published review of external SEN support for schools in England highlights variations in both the quality and quantity of services across the country. The review, carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) also makes a number of recommendations, describes features of effective practice and outlines standards that can be used to identify and develop such practice.

LEAs across England have shown very little progress towards inclusion nationally, according to a report from the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE).*

The number of children permanently excluded from schools in England has increased by more than 6%.

On 20 July 2005 the new Education and Skills Committee met for the first time since the general election, having been constituted the week before, and re-elected Barry Shearman (Labour MP , Huddersfield) as its chairman.

Education for young people in secure settings is undergoing radical change. Further work is being undertaken to ensure that educational opportunities in custody are comparable to those in the community.

For an overview of the growing interest in inclusive education internationally, the UNESCO inclusion website is well worth looking at.

In June 2005 the DfES published Extended Schools: Access to Opportunities and Services for All – A Prospectus (Ref.1408-2005DOC-EN). The document outlines a vision of a wide range of activities that all children should have access to beyond the school day, and details how this vision will come to fruition by 2010, with reference to a timetable and funding arrangements.

Disabled children and young people can experience discrimination related to their disability in contexts that extend beyond school as the following story illustrates.

From 1 September all teachers with timetabled teaching commitments became entitled to PPA time (eg 2.5 hours, or half a day a week for many primary teachers).

A unique combination of sound and touch is bringing a whole new world of teaching opportunities into both special needs and mainstream education.

The recently published report Inclusion: the Impact of LEA Support and Outreach Services (July 2005) summarises a review, undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) of the quality of external special educational needs (SEN) support available to schools in English LEAs.

Following the launch of Mary Warnock’s pamphlet on special educational needs policy, and her call for an urgent review of it (June 29), a flurry of political debate took place in both houses of parliament before the summer recess.

NASEN, QCA and the University of Cambridge have collaborated to produce advice and guidance on using and moderating the P scales.

What would you do if faced with a child having an asthma attack? Jo Viner Smith, BAppSc, lays out a quick guide for teachers as explained in SportEX Health magazine

Are you truly providing every opportunity you can to allow your most able students to thrive, while also not disadvantaging others? Michele Paule outlines action you can take to ensure you identify these students and then are able to shape the best provision for them.

Schools are failing to adequately provide for students’ emotional health and wellbeing. A lot of this is down to ignorance, the findings of a new report from Ofsted reveal – only half of all schools were even aware of Government guidelines on how to meet the needs of the one in 10 pupils who have mental health difficulties.

SENCOs will find two recent publications helpful for developing dyslexia-friendly schools – one for adult literacy and numeracy skills, the other from the primary national strategy.