Online Sources of Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Resources for Primary and Early Years Practitioners
Where can I get my SEN questions answered?
Online forums provide teachers with an opportunity to seek and offer advice about professional matters. The first two listed below involve sending and receiving email messages. The third is a "bulletin board", where you log in and post messages that immediately appear on the site.
- SENCO Forum: This mailing list is for anyone who wants to support Special Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs), those in local authorities and others involved in the education of pupils with special educational needs. Established in 1996, membership of Senco-Forum comprises mainly of SENCOs but also includes a range of education professionals and other interested parties, all of whom will be supporting the work of the SENCO. The list aims to provide an opportunity to discuss issues and provide practical advice which will help Special Needs Co-ordinators carry out their roles. Joining instructions are at http://lists.becta.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/senco-forum.
- SEN Special Interest Groups: The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency supports online communities focusing on medical needs; distance learning for pupils not in school; English as an additional language; emotional and behavioural difficulties; able children; physical disabilities; pupil referral units; refugee education; severe learning difficulties; SEN and ICT; speech and language difficulties; teachers of the deaf; traveller education; visual impairment. Joining instructions are at http://inclusion.ngfl.gov.uk/index.php?i=240.
- Times Educational Supplement Special Education Forum: The TES supports many online communities for teachers, including Special Education, Early Years and Primary. These "forums" have plenty of traffic and a range of knowledgeable though sometimes argumentative contributors. Anonymity is encouraged and secured by choosing a user name other than your own. One of the TES website's strengths is the members' Resource Bank, which contains over 5000 Foundation to Key Stage 2 and 370 SEN items. Joining instructions are at http://www.tes.co.uk/community.aspx/.
- Inclusion Questions and Answers Site: The Inclusion Site provides four sources of help: Questions and answers; Ask the experts; Online communities; Websites worth a visit. It also features a "latest news" section. In the Q & A section you can ask other colleagues for help and advice. Post a question, respond to queries from others, or browse through all the questions and answers. The questions and answers are categorised under four topics, namely Classroom practice, Management issues, Parents and carers and Research. The Q and A section is at http://inclusion.ngfl.gov.uk/index.php?i=201.
Optional Task: Imagine that a child with visual impairment (or another difficulty) has just joined your school. Search the SENCO Forum archives or the Inclusion Q & A site to find out how problems associated with this difficulty can be resolved.
Where can I find official sources of SEN documentation?
These days most government publications about SEN are available in electronic format, which means you can search them more easily and copy and paste quotations from them.
Optional task: Find out what the latest SEN news is as reported on any of the above sites.
Where can I find out about particular categories of SEN?
Now and again parents will approach the school SENCo with the medical diagnosis of a condition which may affect their child's educational development. A little online research may provide a few answers.
- The Contact a family website at http://www.cafamily.org.uk/ is a good place to start. Enter the condition name in the site's search engine and you are likely to be rewarded with a full description of the condition as well as the contact details of any parent support group.
- All the major categories of SEN have national support group websites. APDUK provides information and resources about auditory processing disorder at http://www.apduk.org/. The British Dyslexia Association is at http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/. The National Autistic Society can be found at http://www.nas.org.uk/. The Royal National Institute for the Blind is at http://www.rnib.org.uk/ while the Royal National Institute for the Deaf is at http://www.rnid.org.uk/. AFASIC at http://www.afasic.org.uk/ caters for speech, language and communication needs, while the Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association is at http://www.sebda.org/.
- Other inclusionary categories are English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Gifted and Talented (G&T). For EAL support, visit the website of the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum at http://www.naldic.org.uk/. As for G&T, try the National Programme for Gifted & Talented Education at http://ygt.dcsf.gov.uk/.
Optional Task: Find out what you can about Rett Syndrome. Does the condition have implications for classroom practice?
Where can I find SEN-friendly primary teaching resources?
Several SENCO Forum members responded when the discussion group was invited to recommend resources for primary-aged students with SEN.
- Primary Teaching Resources at http://www.primary-teaching-resources.co.uk offers "high-quality teaching resources with a professional look, designed to promote inspirational teaching and to enhance classroom displays". You pay to download resources.
- The Times Educational Supplement Resource Bank at http://www.tes.co.uk/resourcehub.aspx?navcode=70/ is free and contains over 5000 Foundation to Key Stage 2 and 370 SEN items.
- Crickweb at http://www.crickweb.co.uk/ offers "163 free to use educational interactive resources for Primary Schools".
- NGfL-Cymru at http://www.ngfl-cymru.org.uk/ has Early Years, KS1 and KS2 teaching resources.
- Sparklebox at http://www.sparklebox.co.uk/ has "hundreds of printable resources that help give your teaching that extra 'spark'!"
- Communication 4 All at http://www.communication4all.co.uk/ has "resources for support inclusion".
- SEN Teacher at http://www.senteacher.org "provides cost-free teaching & learning resources for students with special needs and learning disabilities".
- Poisson Rouge - Red Fish at http://www.poissonrouge.com is a great bilingual site with free online games and activities for younger children.
- ICT Games at http://www.ictgames.com is not specifically SEN but offers useful activities.
- Clicker Grids for Learning at http://www.learninggrids.com/ "contains free high-quality resources" for users of Crick Software products.
- Certain school websites offer excellent materials, for example the "free Flash resources for teachers" which Sandfield Comprehensive School has at http://www.sandfields.co.uk/games; "interactive literacy games" on Woodlands Junior School's site at http://www.woodlands- junior.kent.sch.uk/interactive/literacy/index.htm; Priory Woods School at http://www.priorywoods.middlesbrough.sch.uk with its masses of guidance, planning and policies for teachers and good educational resources for use with the students.
- The BBC Schools pages at http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ has primary level games and National Curriculum linked topics.
- Enchanted Learning at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/ is an American subscription site with plenty of things to do and colour in.
- Sebastian Swan at http://www.sebastianswan.org.uk/ offers attractive "big books" and related activities.
- First School Years at http://www.firstschoolyears.com/ offers conventional and useful "free worksheets, flashcards and resources for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2".
- KS1 Resources at http://www.ks1resources.co.uk/ is a KS1 resource for all Early Years, Key Stage 1 and lower KS2 teachers with a growing bank of KS1, worksheets, ideas and PowerPoints for reception, year one year two and lower key stage 2.
- Lanternfish at http://bogglesworldesl.com/ exemplifies how an English as an Additional Language site can be repurposed for SEN. The Dolch Sight Words section contains an excellent game that appeals to boys.
Optional Task: Can you identify an activity or resource from the above websites that you would define as SEN-friendly and classroom-ready?
Where else can I find out about SEN matters?
There are plenty of other places for primary teachers with a professional interest in SEN to explore on the World Wide Web.
Optional Task: Using Google or a links page, can you find a website with the potential to promote the numeracy skills of primary school children with SEN?