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Lynn McCann

Our Blog will include contributions from a number of autism specialists. Lynn, Matt and Emma work for Reachout ASC, plus occasional guest bloggers.
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Lynn McCann

SEND book Reviews 2016

Inclusion for Primary School Teachers by Nancy Gedge

Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities by Cherryl Drabble 

Both published by Bloomsbury (2016)

Reviewing these books was a little daunting.   I know both these ladies well and have great respect for their SEND knowledge and experience.  If you follow either of them on Twitter, you will know that they always talk sense, give great advice and challenge those who don't consider the SEND children in our schools.  However, I wanted to read and review these books with an open mind and without prejudice and so over the Christmas hols I've settled down with a glass of wine (red for each, just to be fair) and jumped into their world of advice for teachers.   Both books are aimed at non-SEND-specialist new or young teachers, SENCOs or teachers wanting a refresher and update on the SEND Code of practice.  Both fulfilled the brief, in my opinion, but I'm going to give you more information about each because they are different books - and in that way they complement each other very well.

Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities by Cherryl Drabble

This book is in two sections.  The first explains what a teacher needs to know about teaching SEND pupils and gives plenty of practical advice about specific conditions and general SEND teaching.  It is aimed at providing continuous CPD for a teacher and for that it needs to be used as a handbook to dip in and out of.  What's unusual is the reference to using Twitter as a source of learning, help, advice and support as teacher of SEND children.  It was an honour to be included under the section about Autism/ASD – as that is my specialism, and I have since looked up and followed all the other tweeters mentioned. There are some helpful questions as you go along which can help you audit your SEND teaching and identify the gaps in your knowledge or practice.  If a teacher has the time, this would be very useful.  I can see time being a major barrier for some, but the book tries to help in that it works in small stepped sections and so a teacher could easily use it as a CPD and PDR tool as they go along.

This book is unique in the relationship it has with Twitter as a source of good practice examples, good advice and support from a wide range of SEND professionals.  A teacher new to Twitter could easily learn to use it well and get the most out of it from the Twitter Tips throughout the book.

The second section is something that SENCOs could use to deliver SEND training in their schools and I like the fact that Cherryl has provided this section.  It's not something you find in many books.  This section is ideal for SENCOs and to have a book that teaches you how to run CPD within your school and gives you step by step advice is brilliant.  I'm working through it to use some of the ideas for delivering my courses on ASC and Cherryl is obviously a competent and capable CPD developer in her own setting and beyond.  We can learn a lot from her.  I'm very glad she has written this section and I think it could be of great benefit in helping schools get to grips with developing their SEND CPD. 

Inclusion for Primary School Teachers by Nancy Gedge

Nancy's book is different. It has one of the best explanations of the SEND Code of Practice, what EHCPs, differentiation and the graduated approach are, that there would be no excuse for any teacher to be ignorant of these things if they read this book. There's a good chapter on the social model of disability and helps a teacher think about how the expectations they have of their SEND pupils .I liked the chapter on relationships because the best teachers are good at relationships with everyone they are working with whilst understanding that they are the one responsible for making school successful for the child with SEND. As an outside agency, I meet lots of teachers and when we work as a team, the children do benefit and thrive. The chapters on behaviour and assessment are useful to help teachers develop a positive approach with high expectations for the children with SEND. There is a useful chapter on terms and acronyms – there are so many in education these days that a handy dictionary of them all will be very useful. Throughout the book Nancy refers to the 'inclusive teacher' and it is a good thing for all teachers to strive to be.


Conclusion

I thought that both of these books might be too simplistic for me as I've been working in SEND education for many years – but I found both of them informative, easy to read and refreshing.  Their view of the SEND child is positive, inclusive and with high expectations of them being able to succeed in mainstream or special schools.  I have started recommending both books to people on the courses I teach, for SENCOs and for teachers alike.  It is all too easy to think that some children can't succeed and are not in the right place to be educated, but these books can help teachers be sure that they have tried all the support strategies they can, and more than that - both books insist that the most important approach is to know each child and their strengths as well as their difficulties and expect that they can make progress and achieve.  All teachers would benefit from a good understanding of the SEND system as it currently stands and a time of reflection on their own practice.  It's great that there are so many good ideas and pointers of where to find out more about so many different SEND conditions.  As they are different in their focus, I would recommend reading Nancy's first for the solid foundation of knowledge and ideas it gives, and then Cherryl's to help you assess, develop and review your SEND teaching as an on-going toolkit, as well as combining both of them for the wealth of ideas and tips for practical strategies in the classroom.  They are both good handbooks for your teaching of SEND pupils – let's face it – every child with SEND is different so you'll always need to adapt your approaches for each child you teach.


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Friday, 22 September 2017
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