At Axcis, we understand that it can be a bit of a jungle out there when it comes to researching special needs. The world wide web is just that – world-wide, making it hard to distinguish between UK and overseas jargon, laws and education systems when it comes to researching the special needs sector. That’s why we have put together this list of where you can find out about special needs here in the UK. This article will be especially helpful if you are looking to move from working in mainstream education to special needs education, or coming here to teach from another country.
Right here on the Axcis website, we have a range of useful information for you. From information aimed at those from overseas who need help to get their heads around the UK education sector and some of the common jargon used, to more specialist special needs resources, our website is a great place to start!
The Department for Education is responsible for education and children’s services in England. They work to achieve a highly educated society in which opportunity is equal for children and young people, no matter what their background or family circumstances. On their website, you can find all sorts of useful information, including:
- SEND Code of Practice – This is guidance on the special educational needs and disabilities system for individuals aged 0-25
- The National Curriculum – which is the compulsory programme of study for all students in maintained schools
- Assessment Criteria – for special needs, “P” scales are often used. These are described here and outline the expected targets for students with special needs.
- Statistics on students with special educational needs in the UK
- Inclusive Schooling – statutory guidance on inclusive education for children with special educational needs in mainstream schools.
Nasen is the UK’s leading organisation supporting those who work with or care for children and young people with special and additional
educational needs and disabilities. They support all staff including SENCO’s, leaders, teachers, governors and teaching assistants in meeting the needs of the pupils in schools and settings through promoting education, training, development and support. Nasen are an invaluable source of advice, offering an exclusive and vital range of benefits.
Nasen also run the SEND Gateway – an online portal offering education professionals free, easy access to high quality information, resources and training for meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This is an invaluable rcesource for all SEND teaching and support professionals. Axcis has recently become a registered provider of content to the SEND Gateway, so you may even recognise some of the materials on there!
Lorraine has 25 years’ experience in the mainstream school environment as a teacher and Head Teacher. From 2004 – 2013, she was also the highly respected CEO of nasen. As a result, Lorraine has many years’ experience of working with pupils with an array of special
and additional needs and the teachers, SENCOs and support staff who work with them. Lorraine has had hands-on experience of the issues relating to caring for and educating children with special and additional needs as well as experience in liaising with a range of organisations within a multi-agency context. During her time as CEO of nasen, Lorraine worked on a number of projects with various agencies including the Department for Education, the National College of Teaching and Leadership (formally the Teaching Agency) and UKTI. She has been a chair, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at many national and international events and conferences. Alongside this, she is a consultant for a number of national organisations. Her website and blog are an invaluable source of information. Lorraine has a particular skill for interpreting and explaining changes in SEND legislation to make it more accessible for many other professionals in the field.
SEN Magazine is one of the leading publications for special needs in the UK. It is packed full of interesting and authoritative features, news and articles covering all issues to do with SEN and disability. It’s essential reading for teachers, SENCOs, carers, parents, therapists and all practitioners in special needs. If you don’t want to subscribe to this bi-monthly magazine, check out their website as many of the features and articles are mirrored on there.
When you consider that the latest statistics released by the government show that around 25% of students with a special educational need are on the autism spectrum, teachers and school support staff should certainly aim to have a good understanding of this condition. The NAS are the leading UK charity for people on the autism spectrum (including Asperger syndrome) and their families. They provide information, support and pioneering services, and campaign for a better world for people with autism. Their website contains a vast range of resources to support those working with autism. They also run Network Autism, an online, UK wide autism specific collaboration with international reach. It is a dedicated, supported space where all those seeking to develop and contribute their skills, knowledge and practice in the area of autism can come together to network and share good practice. The unique multi-disciplinary and multi-national nature of this space will enable cross fertilisation of ideas and experience that over time could lead to the development of innovative practice and drive change across the autism sector.
Special Needs Jungle was started in 2008 by Tania Tirraoro, as a way of preserving the knowledge she had gained successfully navigating the ‘jungle’ of the statementing system for her first younger, then her older son. Over the years, it has expanded from a personal blog into a site that is packed with useful information about special educational needs and disability issues faced by children and their parents. It has personal stories from parents, articles from those providing useful resources and has become a narrative guide to the SEN reforms that have taken place. At Axcis, we agree that there is plenty of really useful information on this site.
If you know of any other fantastic sources of special needs information, why not tell us by posting a comment below?