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SPOTLIGHT ON SEND Dyslexia is no barrier to


achieving potential This month, regular Education Today contributor and independent Specialist Teacher and Assessor JOANNE GLADDERS looks back at Dyslexia Awareness Week.


Dyslexia Awareness Week took place at the beginning of last month, with its focus on 21st Century Dyslexia. The main aim of the focus was to enable more people to see dyslexia as the ability it is. What does that mean for us as educators? How do we ensure that all pupils we teach achieve their potential? Neil Mackay in his book ‘Removing Dyslexia as a Barrier to


Achievement’ describes dyslexia as “A specific learning difference which, at any level of ability, may cause unexpected difficulties in the acquisition of certain skills.” Every child will have different strengths and areas of difficulty, as do all the learners in our classrooms. The tailoring of learning activities to facilitate the achievement of all learners in our classrooms can be quite a daunting prospect – the eternal spinning of plates ensuring everyone’s needs are met. Multisensory learning is where all learning styles are


accommodated in learning activities – Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. When was the last time we considered how our learners learn best? Not all learners learn in the same way and therefore there will always be some that are not learning as well as they could in some activities. It is impractical to repeat the same learning visually then orally and then kinaesthetically. Why not try to encompass all three learning styles within one activity? Many schools are working towards achieving the Dyslexia Friendly


Schools Mark from the British Dyslexia Association. The reason for this is that Dyslexia Friendly strategies ware effective for all learners - the art of encompassing all three learning styles as often as possible. Through doing this you give all learners the opportunity to use strategies that may be outside their comfort zone but also give them additional strategies that they can select to enhance their own learning. In Dyslexia Friendly schools you will find evidence of learning


through the use of alternative ways to record work such as storyboards, mind maps and flowcharts. The use of Post-It notes is particularly useful to aid the structure and planning of writing. Other ways of recording work instead of writing include the use of oral presentations, webcams and digital recordings. The role of assistive technology is also coming more to the fore as


it is embedded into many of the programmes that we already use. The ability to have texts read by a computer reader enables the text to become far more accessible to learners. In addition, speech to write technology releases the pressure on writing. Part of my role as a Specialist Teacher is to engage with the


learners and build upon the strategies that are being developed within their own learning environment, to enable them to identify the strategies that work for them and why other strategies don’t work for them. Once this is established we look at ways they can apply the strategies to their learning thus empowering them to understand what works for them and how they can adapt the strategies to different situations. This month I challenge you to make learning as multisensory as


possible. I leave you with this quote from Removing Dyslexia as a Barrier to Learning. “Multi-sensory is best. The more senses involved in learning, and


the more ways that information can be transformed into something else, the more permanent the learning.”


November 2018 Protecting the


vulnerable from abuse This month, in her regular Education Today column on all aspects of SEND, Kate Sarginson, Assistant Headteacher and former SENCO, looks at safeguarding through the lens of SEND.


Safeguarding awareness has continually improved as schools are increasingly cognizant of its vital importance. We know that children are vulnerable, but an even greater level of awareness of the risks is needed when considering how to protect children and young people with special educational needs from abuse and neglect. Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSE) is the statutory


safeguarding guidance for schools and colleges. Safeguards for children with disabilities are essentially the same as those without. However, early into the document it recognises that children with disabilities can face additional safeguarding challenges. KCSE recommends that school policy should reflect the fact that further barriers can exist when identifying abuse and neglect of pupils with SEND. Structures and hierarchies are established in schools and


obedience to adults is taught; to question or challenge this is considered a disciplinary issue. Compliance to adult requests is embedded into the daily routine. Teachers and staff in schools work hard to build relationships of trust with children. It is not difficult to see how differentiating between adults who genuinely care and those who have other motives can be difficult for any child, more so if they have special educational needs. There are a number of reasons why additional vigilance is


required when safeguarding against the abuse and neglect of children with special educational needs. Schools need to be aware that indicators of abuse can be masked by the child’s disability, and behaviour and mood may be wrongly attributed to their diagnosed needs. Signs of physical abuse, for example, may be inaccurately credited to self-harm. Those who require personal care will become accustomed to people needing to be physically close to them on a regular basis. Children’s understanding of what is and what is not appropriate may be impaired and they may not realise that they are being abused. Understanding of social skills and relationships may require specific teaching, and children on the Autistic Spectrum, for example, may have learnt a definition of what a friend is, but not be able to question the use of this word to them by someone during the grooming process. Communication difficulties can make disclosures more challenging to attain. This is a barrier which needs to be overcome in order to ensure that every child has a voice. Sex education should be delivered to children and young people


with SEND in recognition that they share many of the same wishes for relationship and intimacy as people without disabilities. It can be an uncomfortable concept, symptomatic of a society which has a history of infantilising people with disabilities. Research* has found that not enough has been done to support pupils to develop their understanding of relationships, which makes them more vulnerable to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) than other children. Schools need to demonstrate a higher level of awareness of


safeguarding associated with pupils with SEND, and ensure approaches strengthen the capacity of children to gain the skills they need to better recognize risk. We need to be sure that our responses as professionals do not further contribute to their vulnerability.


*‘Unprotected, Overprotected: meeting the needs of young people with learning disabilities who experience, or are at risk of sexual exploitation' (2015) Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, BILD, Paradigm Research and Coventry University.


www.education-today.co.uk 19


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