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Please use the contact form below to contact Families and SEN. Set out briefly the issues you want to discuss with your contact details and I will get back to you:

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Bullet Point Issue 6 now available featuring topics such as development during pre-school years, visual impairment and other disabilities, click here to find out more.

Education: The Great Equaliser!

Hello and welcome,
The following points have been expanded in the books available via my web site. They contain much more about accessing learning and the development of valuable skills.

Rgds Clive.

If You Don’t Do It Who Will?


Help with SEN

A visual impairment is complex and the eye condition may not be understood by key people. It can be highly variable and change throughout the day. Its effect can become more prominent and pervading at times of stress …

Eye Tests

A visual acuity score obtained during a stressful eye test may be affected. It should not therefore be wholly relied upon to set expectations in learning or allocate resources.

Enlarging Materials

If your child or young person has poor visual acuity enlarging things will make them bigger but not necessarily make things clearer. No amount of enlargement can make things look the same as they do to someone with normal sight …

Specialist Assessments

Your child or young person requires regular visual assessments. These should be written partly or wholly in functional terms …

An assessment should take place in different conditions and outside the sometimes ideal environment of a clinic …

Many believe that correct lighting is the most important low vision aid. Inappropriate lighting can seriously impact upon your child or young person accessing visual information. Advice on lighting should, therefore, be built into an assessment.

Specialist Reports

Specialist reports should be written in functional terms so it can be clearly seen how findings impact on your child’s or young person’s life …

An Experienced Optometrist

If your child or young person wears glasses and has a visual impairment it is extremely important that a highly skilled and experienced optometrist assesses sight and fits glasses …

Optometrist Assessment

An optometrist should assess residual visual in functional terms. A report should contain your child or young person’s:

  • Functional history

  • Unaided vision


Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (QTVI) Report

Reports produced by a low vision teacher should include information about how well your child or young person can function in the learning environment. A report should cover the following:

  • Any curriculum adaptations, strategies and modifications necessary



  • Everything should be written in clear, specific and quantifiable terms


Appropriate Support

Here are a few general points for you to consider when deciding if your child’s or young person’s needs are being met:

  • Is the learning environment appropriate regarding lighting, colour contrast and layout?


An IEP is a planning, teaching and reviewing document for everyone to use when supporting your child or young person. Short-term targets should be identified that relate to the needs of each individual. The IEP then details the extra help your child or young person will receive in order to meet these targets …

An IEP should record strategies employed to enable your child or young person to progress. These include,

  • Short-term targets based on the nature of your child or young person’s individual needs to be achievement in a given time


An IEP may also address,

  • Pastoral care


An IEP should also record,

  • The plan’s review date and monitoring arrangements



An IEP should contain,

  • Three or four short term targets that address specific areas of difficulty; for example, communication, behaviour or social skills


Target Setting

The use of short term, attainable learning goals, with regular testing, frequent feedback and individual corrective help has been shown to help to improve low attainment standards in learners.

Why Have Targets?

Targets are necessary as they represent:

  • A level of achievement - did they succeed?


Targets Should Be SMART

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Relevant/Realisable

T = Time limited/Time specific

Things to Look Out For When Targets Have Been Set

  • Make sure they’re not too easy. Your child or young person will not be able to show his or her best and will feel less fulfilled by the achievement



  • Ensure targets are achievable otherwise your child or young person may become demoralised and disengage from learning


Targets to Maximise Life

Targets may be unrelated to any specific lesson but are important in helping your child or young person make the most of life. This might involve addressing:

  • Confidence

  • Self-esteem


Keeping a Check

Having set a target record the point at which your child or young person started. It is of little use just saying s/he has developed self-esteem. What can s/he do now which couldn’t be done before? Where is the evidence? Was the development due to the target or did it just happen through life generally within the learning environment?

Your child or young person should also be congratulated when success has been achieved. Even if the target is not fully achieved, give positive feedback and highlight progress made towards achievement.


  • Keep the emphasis on minimum targets that your child or young person should, if they work, achieve and even exceed …


When agreeing targets express them positively – something your child or young person should aim to do rather than not do …

Placement Options

In the UK today several options may be available to you regarding the choice of school or college. These including,

  • Mainstream or maintained school which is a school maintained by the local authority (LA)

  • Maintained or mainstream school with a resource base which is a maintained school with a base where your child or young person can be given specialist input, access specialist equipment and have resources specially prepared for him or her. It may be staffed by a specialist teacher and specialist learning support assistant(s)

  • Independent and independent residential schools are not maintained by the LA and charge fees. They may be approved by the Secretary of State as being suitable for children or young people with special educational needs. Independent schools are not covered by much of the law governing maintained schools but the Disability Discrimination Act/Equality Act 2010 does apply. There is no guarantee that the school has the time or resources to meet your child or young person’s needs which may also increase as the academic work load increases

  • Specialist independent and specialist independent residential schools which are fee paying schools too but are only for children or young people with specific special educational needs

The main advantage of a mainstream school or college stems from your child or young person often being at home and in the community. Whereas, the main advantage of a specialist independent or specialist independent residential education is the educational provision especially for those children or young people with a disability may be better.

For mainstream education to work there must be a sufficient number of specialist teachers and teaching support hours allocated along with adequate in-service training for generic (i.e. not a specialist in SEN) teachers and learning support assistants. There must also be adequate staff and time to adapt and modify resources.

What Do You Need To Think About?

Following are a few questions you might like to ask when considering the suitability of a placement,

  • Will your child or young person have a suitable peer group?

  • Will the school or college provide quantifiable social and independent living skills programs?


You might also like to consider,

  • Why you think it would or would not be appropriate for your child or young person to attend a specific placement?


Always keep in mind that integration does not occur simply by attending a similar type of provision as non-disabled peers …

Useful sources of information and advice may be secured from,

  • Other parents with children or young people who have special educational needs at the school or college


Residential Special School or College

Following is a list of features often found in a residential specialist school or college during the delivery of a 24 hour curriculum:

  • In house specialist disability support


Choosing a school or college is extremely important in order for your child or young person to reach his or her potential both at school, college and in the future. If you are unsure about a placement’s suitability you should seek independent advice.


A well planned transition process is vital to ensure that your child or young person has a positive experience at each stage of transition. A plan will be necessary between,

  • Home and pre-school

  • Pre-school and school

  • Schools


Individual Needs

A transition plan should be tailored to meet individual need and enable your child or young person to become confident in the new environment as early as possible.

A transition plan should provide opportunities and enough time to,

  • Meet key staff

  • Develop age appropriate independence …



At times of transition it is essential that there is appropriate liaison between the feeder placement and the receiving placement. Specifically,

  • The receiving placement’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) or first class teacher should attend the support review or annual review prior to transfer


New Placement Visits

During familiarisation visits forward planning is again essential. Taster days should enable your child or young person to take a full part in all activities planned and work as independently as possible. This requires,

  • Activities planned so that they are differentiated


Learning Resources

Learners are often dependent on modified and adapted resources along with specialist equipment. Needs may change between different key stages, so any support requirements should be in place ready for when this occurs.

If a new piece of equipment or specialist resource in needed, both your child or young person and his or her teaching assistant may need training ...

Other considerations include,

  • An environmental audit …


Successful Inclusion

Successful inclusion is dependent on all staff at the new school or college being aware of your child’s or young person’s particular needs. This requires,

  • Awareness training for teaching and non-teaching staff before transfer


Assessing a New Placement

An assessment of the receiving school or college, including a risk assessment should be carried out before transfer …


Parents, carers and each child or young person must feel that they have been fully consulted, involved and informed at all stages during the transition process. They should be,

  • Invited to meetings prior to transfer and encouraged to make a contribution


Parents, children and young people should be given an explanation of all options in order to make an informed choice. If anything is unclear, seek advice.

During the process you should be,

  • Provided with an opportunity to make accompanied visits to the new school or college

  • Introduced to key staff


Attending meetings is almost inevitable if you have a child or young person with a disability. You may be seated opposite someone with a great deal of experience and getting your point across can be difficult. Following, are a few pointers on how to manage.

Preparation Is Vital

  • Consider taking someone experienced and independent with you for support and to record what is said


Content of the Meeting

  • If relevant, always try to speak with your child’s or young person’s teacher

  • Stick to the points you wish to raise and arrange another meeting to discuss other issues


Listening Is Crucial

  • At the beginning of the meeting everyone should introduce themselves. If this doesn’t happen ask them to do so. Ask also their role if their title doesn’t explain things

  • If you do not understand a question or point say so. Ask the person to repeat, rephrase or clarify things


Making Your Point

  • Say clearly why the school or college cannot or is not meeting your child or young person’s needs



  • After the meeting go over points raised in your mind and write them down. If you attended with someone, discuss points raised and any outcomes agreed



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