Getting to grips with SEN

Special educational needs (SEN) faces a major upheaval over the next year. Bett 2014 offers a great opportunity for educators get up to speed

Special educational needs’ provision faces its biggest reform in over 30 years in 2014. The publication of the SEN draft Code of Practice, and the SEN regulations that sit alongside it, set out the statutory guidance for all those working with and caring for, children and young people with SEN.

The code of practice will come into force on 1 September 2014 and from that day, all professionals engaged in supporting young people with SEN will have to refer to the document. Bett 2014 brings together a wide range of exhibitors, experts, practitioners and associations that can help keep visitors up to date with the latest regulations and solutions.

Technology can be a great leveller when it comes to making education accessible to children of all abilities, and Bett’s history of showcasing the latest in inclusive resources is impressive. Bett 2014 features a dedicated SEN Zone, bringing together the best in appropriate resources and enabling visitors to touch, test and compare the solutions for their pupils.

The SEN Information Point is the ideal first port of call; hosted by nasen, the UK’s leading professional association embracing all special educational needs and disabilities, visitors can get expert advice, access the latest research and be directed to the solutions that most fit their needs.

Leading professional development

As it celebrates its 30th year in 2014, Bett’s reputation as a hub of valuable continuing professional development (CPD) continues to grow year on year. Whether attending large arena talks or smaller, more personal workshop sessions, all offer strong CPD opportunities.

In response to the demand for information and training, Bett 2014 will host a targeted SEN CPD programme. The specialist line up of sessions can be found in the SEN Learn Live Theatre at the heart of the show floor in the SEN Zone.

Here is a taster of some of the sessions scheduled for the SEN Learn Live Theatre over the four days of Bett:

* iPads to support students with visual impairments

In this case study session at 10.30am on Wednesday 22 January, Gavin Calnan, head of ICT/computing at Bentley Wood High School will share transferable lessons on how iPads can support students with visual impairments. The school has students with severe visual impairments, including one student who cannot read digital text if it is smaller than font size 24pt. Over the past academic year, the use of an iPad has helped this student access parts of the curriculum she would have otherwise been unable to read. Gavin will share his thoughts on how iPads can be modified in such a way that it allows visually impaired students to connect to the school network, access resources and upload/print out work.

* Technology and autism: what have we learned?

At 2.30pm on Friday 24 January, Carol Allen, school improvement advisor for North Tyneside local authority, and Ian Bean, special needs ICT consultant, will explore the use of technology for students with autism. Attendees will learn what does and doesn’t work, how to manage potential technology obsession, and measure if students really are being given a voice. Also highlighted will be some of the most useful special educational technologies, apps, websites and teaching strategies that are having a major impact on autistic students in schools around the world. 

* SEN update: preparing for change

Jane Friswell, interim CEO at nasen, will share all the key headline features of the draft SEN Code of Practice affecting all schools, settings and providers across the 0-25 age range at 10.30am on Saturday 25 January. The session will raise questions of readiness for those working in the field of SEN support and provide helpful and informative good practice for teachers to draw confidence from when implementing the SEN reforms.

A full line of SEN Learn Live sessions can be found at Nasen will be hosting the SEN Information Point offering advice to visitors on the most suitable CPD opportunities in the Learn Live SEN seminar theatre.

The latest technology

Since the first Bett 30 years ago, the show has become the place to get hands on with the latest and greatest classroom and school technology. With Bett 2014 hosting more than 700 educational exhibitors under one roof, visitors can meet with these various suppliers of a specific product or service, evaluate each and ask all the necessary questions to help them make an informed decision. Here is taste of what resources are in store to support SEN education at the show.

The accessible curriculum is something that all schools strive to deliver and literacy plays a key role in this. For pupils whose special educational needs makes this challenging, there is a risk of being left behind their peers. Texthelp’s award-winning resources are designed to address this and the company will be showcasing its latest version of Read&Write Gold text-to-speech software on stand SN100. Read&Write 11 Gold includes new features and enhancements which support students with their reading and writing skills on the PC. The software can make a big difference to the confidence and independence of the 10 per cent of students with dyslexia in the UK, as well as those who speak English as a second language.

Crick Software’s flagship product Clicker, which received the ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions Award at Bett 2013, is another useful tool for literacy. Clicker 6 combines classic Clicker literacy support with the latest technology to create an empowering, inclusive learning environment. Visit stand D20 to discover the built-in support tools, including speech feedback and intelligent word prediction, that enable pupils to overcome learning barriers that would previously have prevented them from putting great ideas into writing.

Accessible hardware is vital and the increasing popularity of touch devices is testimony to the benefits that these offer to pupils with SEN. On stand C140, Toshiba will showcase its detachable Ultrabook, the Portégé Z10t, which offers a great level of support to pupils with special educational needs by allowing them to embrace tasks visually, by touch or by audio. Its standout feature is the 11.6” touchscreen, which offers an intuitive touch experience that enables both visual and kinaesthetic learning. The full HD screen is designed for extensive daily use, ensuring it is robust enough to act as a long-term companion for students.

Music can have a great impact on the level of engagement felt by those students with SEN. On stand B461, Beamz Europe will showcase the Beamz Music System, designed to be accessible for students of all learning and physical abilities and those with no musical background to play and enjoy music. With Beamz, classrooms can be turned into 21st Century learning environments where students interrupt beams of light to make music.  The instrument enables students to work on many common core subjects as well as cause and effect, directionality, sequencing and fine and gross motor skills. Beamz is Multi-Platform compatible, working with PC, Mac and Apple’s iOS so it can also be used with iPads too.

To help educators source the areas of the show best suited to their individual requirements, the show’s Information Point, run by the education sector’s trade association, BESA, is situated on stand C380. Stop by the BESA Information Point to plan your visit and in turn help get the most from your day.

Bett 2014 takes place from 22-25 January 2014 at ExCeL London and is free to attend. To register and for more information, visit


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