Special Educational Needs in the Primary School: A Practical Guide

Special Educational Needs in the Primary School: A Practical Guide

Special Educational Needs in the Primary School: A Practical Guide

Special Educational Needs in the Primary School: A Practical Guide


Reviews of the first two editions:

"extraordinarily rich in ideas...an essential buy." - TES

"an excellent, clearly written work which is full of practical advice, and presented in an easily readable manner. This book is a highly recommended read. Do buy it and see." - Support for Learning

"has proved especially influential at practitioner level... never failing to offer a balanced assessment." - British Journal of Special Education

"I have a comprehensive library of books on special educational needs but I use this one more than any other because I find it readable, practical and accessible. It is a useful and informative book both to read cover to cover and to dip into. Although it is based on sound theoretical knowledge, it is clear that Jean Gross is writing from her own experience as a teacher and SEN practitioner." - TES

Recent legislation and cutbacks to central support services mean that the responsibility for meeting special educational needs is resting ever more squarely on the shoulders of ordinary classroom teachers. Yet few feel wholly confident in their ability to adapt work within the national curriculum to meet the whole range of needs, or coordinate successful individual education plans for children who, for whatever reason, are not learning as well as they might.

This book will increase that confidence. Aimed at busy class teachers, special needs coordinators, heads and teachers in training, it shows how the teacher can build differentiation into planning lessons and schemes of work. It describes workable strategies for managing the most common behaviour difficulties and meeting special needs in language, literacy and mathematics.

At a whole school level, it offers practical guidance on reviewing special needs policies, assessment, record keeping, and the management of roles and resources. The focus is on the way in which schools can do a good job in meeting special needs themselves, within the everyday constraints of time, money and energy, and in so doing provide genuinely inclusive opportunities for all children.

This edition has been comprehensively updated and rewritten to cover the revised SEN Code of Practice and related legislation, new directions in inclusion and all the major curriculum initiatives now in place in primary schools.


Teachers have always taught children with a wide range of abilities and achievements. From time to time, a statistic will surface which highlights the extent of this range – for example, the Cockcroft Report's (Cockcroft 1982) estimate of a seven-year range in maths attainment in an average class of 11-year-olds. At one time, those at the bottom of this wide range were called ‘educationally subnormal’, ‘retarded’ or ‘backward’, and placed at the margins of the class teacher's responsibility by their perceived inbuilt blocks and barriers to learning. Later, they became children with ‘special educational needs’ (SEN), whose learning difficulties were perceived to be less inbuilt and more a product of the context in which they were educated. Meeting their needs was seen as an integral part of all teachers' responsibilities; they were promised a brave new future of support in integrated classrooms, only to slip back to threatened marginalization again in more recent times, in a climate where children can all too easily be considered cheap or costly according to the amount of support they require, the probability that they will help the school to meet its rigorous targets, and the gloss they add (or fail to add) to the school's image.

There are however, many steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of marginalization of vulnerable children. The first is to foster confidence, in all teachers, that they themselves can take effective steps to manage the whole range of abilities and needs within their classes. We must never forget how easily work with children who don't learn or behave well can sap adult confidence: their difficulty in learning makes teachers feel like failures too, and try to allay those uncomfortable feelings by perceiving the child's problems as intractable, intrinsic and best dealt with by someone else with appropriate expertise. Teachers who feel confident that they have enough expertise of their own to make plans that will move the child on in learning, even in very small steps, don't need to pass the buck or suggest they should be elsewhere. Fostering that personal and professional confidence is vital to ensuring a welcome for all children in all classrooms.

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