We’ve been lucky to feature a host of enthusiastic SEN teachers on IMS, all of them fighting to make sure that pupils with such hurdles are afforded an excellent education. Here, freelance musician and music educator Jonathan Westrup discusses what best practice looks like for SEN pupils in music education.
The question posed by that title would no doubt have given many music services professionals the jeebies even a few years back. Put simply, there were not many music teachers out there with the requisite experience and ongoing professional support to address it satisfactorily. And when we use the term ‘SEN’, what do we precisely mean? Is it a group of children with dyslexia in a mainstream secondary? Or a small class of children with PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) in a special school? They all have a right to an enjoyable, consistent music education but they all need different approaches and equipment to help ensure that happens.
It’s arguable that the area of education that embraces technology the most is SEN. Here, journalist and health specialist Felicity Dryer looks at how Virtual Reality is being used to help pupils with special needs.
The use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology in the special education arena has become an increasingly popular idea over the years, spawning a series of scientific studies to help validate their effectiveness. VR has been used worldwide in a wide range of careers, including the areas of medicine, the military, sports, and engineering for training, collaboration, product design and information delivery purposes.
It seems, at times, that SEN teaching might well be the most rewarding area of education. Some of these pupils have immense obstacles to overcome as part of their learning, and specialist teachers are always finding new and inventive ways to assist them. Carolyn Hughes, ICT leader at Meadowside Special School in Birkenhead, Merseyside, discusses the technological options available for making as many areas as SEN-accessible as possible.
Technology has a great role to play in improving access for learners with physical barriers to learning. For many with additional SEN, the assistive technology can be challenging itself; trying to make it personalised to the individual learner, to make is usable and purposeful. It should be asked, “What do we want the learners to do that they cannot do without assistive technology?”
Arguably more than any specialist area of education, SEN pupils require certain qualities for a good education. Here, Nicky Broomhall, Principal at Star Academy Sandyford, discusses how her school has embraced SEN teaching.
As special needs programmes have become an increasingly important consideration for mainstream educational institutions, SEN provision is now a hot topic of discussion for primary schools striving to offer that extra level of support to their pupils.
What different methods can SEN educators use to reach specific pupils? Dell’s Matt Smith suggests that teachers consider using their PECS...
The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) approach is a program designed for training in early nonverbal symbolic communication. While this program is not intended to teach speech, some children do gain these skills and begin using them during the training. PECS takes place during regular activities within the classroom as well as the home. Training techniques can include a number of strategies such as prompting/cueing, modeling, chaining and environmental engineering.
A student with learning difficulties has to get through a lot of hard work each time, so it’s important that their teacher is properly equipped to guide and encourage their progress. Therapy Box director Rebecca Bright, herself a speech & language therapist, gives her advice on the best SEN tech available.
We’re often asked, when we run workshops and training sessions for speech therapists, how they can utilise iPads and Android tablets in the classroom alongside students with learning disabilities. Of course, the answer is as broad as the range of students – with a plethora of tools and apps which can be considered by speech therapists and teachers.
One of the main advantages offered by constantly-evolving edtech is the bevy options given to SEN students. Different special education needs pupils are challenged by different disabilities, and it’s great to have user-friendly, affordable apps for these learners. Experienced SEN and biology teacher David Imrie gives five free apps that he loves using.
Meeting the needs of disabled students need not be expensive. Many of my students encounter difficulty with printed material due to a dyslexia, physical disability and/or visual impairment which require additional support software. Although I use a range of approaches, I make sure students have access to software which they can take and run on a pen drive wherever they go. Over the years I have found a few simple solutions to the most common problems they encounter. I’d like to mention a few of the best free applications.
As featured in the March edition of our magazine.
Over the past few years, I have worked at many educational establishments in the United Kingdom and abroad. My area is communication and access to learning for all - from those with profound and multiple learning difficulties to those who are academic and able but have a specific or transitory learning barrier. Unsurprisingly, my work in other countries has brought me into contact with some strikingly different approaches and attitudes to special educational needs (SEN).
In Albania I came across a slow start to the provision of education for some children with disabilities. Historically, in this country, such children were put through the same system whatever their disability. This had been the case for a blind man whom I met. Intelligent, articulate and a wonderful singer, he carried his few possessions - a cassette tape player with two cassettes and his cigarettes - with him at all times, having no safe place to store them.